Wednesday 28th September 2016                 Change text size:

REA hold mixed reaction to changes in government proposals on biogas and biomass



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The Government consultation into the reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) closed yesterday. The Renewable Energy Association (REA) who cover power, transport and heat, responded to proposals regarding biogas and biomass. They are encouraging the Government to support a wide range of renewable heat technologies in order to meet 2020 renewable energy targets.

The RHI is the principal policy that supports the decarbonisation of the UK’s heating sector. Heating is one of three sectors that are covered in the legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets, along with power and transport.

REA, has submitted to government that if the changes proposed to the policy were to be approved, the resulting collapse of the biomass heat industry would result in job losses and a significantly slowed rate of decarbonisation.

The response outlines the UK’s already poor progress towards meeting its 2020 renewable energy targets and the benefits that supporting the wood-heat industry bring – including benefits to British forests which are more actively managed as a result.

Biomass represents 89 per cent of the renewable heat in Europe and international examples of decarbonising the heat sector were also highlighted in the response.

Frank Aaskov, Policy Analyst at the REA, said: “We need a range of technologies to decarbonise a range of properties.

“Rural locations, for example, with no access to a gas network cannot be left behind. Biomass boilers are low-cost, provide significant carbon savings compared to oil boilers, and support the growth of healthy British forests.

“For many properties, biomass boilers are a pragmatic low-carbon alternative. They are used in diverse locations, such as at the National Trust property at Ickworth in Suffolk.

“It is distressing that the Government’s proposals would shutter this growing industry and would have us rely instead on largely untested technologies.”

However, the renewable energy industry has welcomed the Government’s vision for the growth of the anaerobic digestion sector. The worry is that limited access to waste feedstocks and drastic reductions in government support under the Feed-In tariffs call into question if the support being offered can be made into a reality.

Dr. Kiara Zennaro, Head of Biogas at the REA, said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition that anaerobic digestion has a critical role to play in decarbonising the heat, waste and agricultural sectors.

“We share the Government’s ambitions for growth, but building new industry requires stability and support. There is a need to reassess whether the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s expectations can be met given the current constraints in terms of feedstock availability, drastic reductions in the Feed-In Tariffs and the proposed restrictions on energy crops.”

The REA is the largest renewable energy trade association in the UK, with approximately 750 members, ranging from major multinational companies to sole traders. For more information visit www.r-e-a.net


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