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Environment Agency raises biomass questions

An Environment Agency report has said biomass will only deliver the carbon savings expected if schemes report the greenhouse gas emissions linked to production, transport and use.

The report is titled ‘Biomass – carbon sink or carbon sinner?’ and urges the Government to
set minimum standards if required to ensure the growing biomass industry is robustly policed.

The agency says using energy crops or waste materials as fuel for generating electricity and heat could play an important role in meeting the UK’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, but only if good practice is followed.

It is also urging the Government to provide greater incentives for combined heat and power than for electricity only plant, through the proposed renewable heat incentive.

The Government’s renewable energy strategy envisages huge growth in energy generation from biomass, by 2020 it wants 15 per cent of heat and electricity delivered by renewable sources with a third of this provided by biomass.

The Environment Agency’s Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Tony Grayling said: “The biomass heat and power sector can play an important role in helping the UK meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas commitments but only if it meets high standards.

“We want to ensure that the sector’s growth is environmentally sustainable and that the mistakes made with biofuels are avoided, where unsustainable growth has had to be curbed.

“Biomass operators have a responsibility to ensure that biomass comes from sustainable sources, and is used efficiently to deliver the greatest greenhouse gas savings and the most renewable energy.

“The Government should ensure that good practice is rewarded and that biomass production and use that does more harm than good to the environment does not benefit from public support.”

To read the Environmental Agency report in full click here.