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Bioenergy industry is vital for UK carbon targets




A strong, vibrant bioenergy sector that helps both producers and users contribute to carbon targets is vital for the UK, said the NFU today, following publication of the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) bioenergy review.

While agreeing with the report’s main headlines, the NFU is concerned that some of its recommendations will lead to underinvestment in bioenergy at a critical time for the industry.

The NFU believes that the absence of a clear ambition for the development of domestic bioenergy resources is a major concern, as is the recommendation for delayed target-setting for transport biofuels, which could set back industry hopes of delivering real carbon savings.

NFU chief renewable energy adviser Dr Jonathan Scurlock said: “We strongly agree with the review’s conclusion that the UK’s carbon budgets will be hard to meet without bioenergy. We also agree with the committee that bioenergy will ideally be combined with carbon capture and storage to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The NFU would like to see this point emphasised in the CCC’s next annual report to government.

“However, we are concerned that the CCC recommends withdrawing Renewables Obligation support for so-called ‘large scale’ dedicated biomass power generation. This could have the perverse consequence of halting investment in a sector that has struggled with half-hearted government support and is in need of a diverse portfolio of projects.

“We are also disappointed that despite higher confidence in sustainability of home-grown feedstocks compared with imported biomass, and the substantial evidence that the NFU presented to the CCC’s study, no headline ambition has been set for the development of domestic bioenergy resources.

“Lastly, we disagree with the CCC’s call for transport biofuel targets to be regarded as ‘flexible’. Trying too early to limit their use mostly to aviation will only lead to further uncertainty, and damage the prospects of building a truly sustainable industry.

“Under the Renewable Energy Directive, bioenergy will be a key complement to other renewables such as wind power and solar energy in Britain, providing thermal power generation for grid stability as well as process heat, domestic heat and transport fuels.

“Most EU member states will need to substantially increase their biomass supply to meet national renewable energy action plans. The UK will need to rely heavily on bioenergy from the agricultural sector, alongside our modest forest resources. Around 4 million tonnes of straw, plus a similar amount of new energy crops, could be supplied without disrupting existing agricultural markets.

“The bioenergy sector must not be marginalised. It will need to thrive in order for the UK to realistically meet its carbon reduction and energy security ambitions, and both government and industry support will be vital to achieve this goal.”


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