Government fails on biomass

THE QUEEN‘S environmental advisors have slammed the government for failing to promote biomass enough as a renewable energy source.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said that biomass energy “is failing to develop under fractured and misdirected government policies”.

In its report released on Tuesday (May 11), Biomass as a renewable Energy Source , the Commission called for a new renewable heat obligation that would benefit biomass-fired plants producing both heat and electricity.

All new-build developments should include these Combined Heat and Power units, recommended the report.

Sir Tom Blundell , the Commission‘s chairman, said the government had recognised that biomass energy has both benefits for climate change and opportunities for UK agriculture.

“But the policies so far have failed to integrate the supply chain and support viable technologies,” he said.

“Changing government policy to encourage the use of biomass fuels for both heat and power could provide the impetus that the sector needs”

Central to the Commission‘s recommendations is a new ‘green heat‘ credit that would help to raise the profile and profitability of schemes that use biomass.

It would work in a similar way to the minimum green electricity price charged by renewable energy sources, such as power stations that are fired with crops like willow and miscanthus.

A by-product of these small CHP units, the heat is often used in nearby small developments or greenhouses, making the plant financially viable.

The Commission report recommends there should be an obligation on local councils and developers to include CHP units, and use them as heat sources, in all new building developments.

The failure to realise the potential of these resources is due to a lack of effective, co-ordinated government policy, said the Commission.

It recommended a new government/industry biomass forum to establish investor and farmer security and to develop the supply chain.

“At the Climate Group launch earlier this month, Tony Blair highlighted the importance of climate change policy during the British chairmanship of the G8 next year,” said Sir Tom.

“This will be impossible in our current position – some ten years behind other Northern European countries.”