Scotland Announces New Green Investment Programme to Accelerate
Net Zero Emissions

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In a bid to reach Scotland’s net zero carbon emissions objectives by 2045, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has invited councils, developers and other organisations to pitch for large-scale investment to support a range of sustainable projects mainly covering renewables, waste, transport and the circular economy.

Estimated to be worth approximately £3bn over a three year period, the Green Investment Portfolio is due to be launched in Spring 2020 to the first round of projects and will help companies to better market their solution, reach commercialisation and attract private investment.

The Scottish Government will partner with Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish National Investment Bank, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust, UK Department for International Trade, Scottish Renewables and the Scottish Property Federation.


NFU backs Biomass Heat Works! campaign calling out Government on rural decarbonisation policy…

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The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has pledged its support to the Biomass Heat Works! campaign, the biomass heat industry’s call for UK Government to act now, protect approximately 46,000 jobs, extend the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme (RHI) and raise fossil fuel duties to help meet carbon emission targets.

 Following the launch of the NFU’s own blueprint vision to cut carbon emissions to net zero within farming by 2040, the 55,000 member-strong organisation has extended its support to the campaign given that many of its members use or have diversified into using biomass as a renewable energy heat source.

 Biomass in rural areas can create successful, workable circular economies across farming, agriculture and forestry sectors and is often the most viable and lowest carbon option available to businesses and households in off-gas grid areas.  

Given the UK Government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, it is essential that rural households and businesses aren’t left behind their urban counterparts when it comes to future heat decarbonisation strategies, especially given that many of the biomass heat industry’s 700+ supply chain companies operate rurally.

The NFU’s backing of the Biomass Heat Works! campaign is a huge boost and one which has been welcomed by industry leaders.

 Neil Holland of the UK Pellet Council, which along with the Wood Heat Association is delivering the Biomass Heat Works! campaign, explained, “We’re delighted that the NFU have pledged its support to the campaign as a vast number of its members up and down the country are advocates of biomass heat. 

“There is a much bigger picture that the Government needs to urgently consider here, and that is by extending the RHI and specifying biomass as the most proven and commercially-ready solution to decarbonising heat in rural areas, we can also create a highly sustainable rural economy, good employment opportunities and business growth in agricultural industries going forward. 

“The UK’s biomass industry employs almost four times the number of those working within the country’s fishing industry[1]and already, over 30% of non-domestic biomass capacity is within the agricultural sector. Therefore, Government support and investment in the biomass sector, as in other European countries, would make a significant contribution to the 2050 carbon reduction targets whilst making rural businesses more resilient and homes more energy efficient. 

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Advisor (Renewable Energy and Climate Change) at the National Farmers’ Union added, “The farming industry is fully committed to realising its net zero vision and there are clear environmental and economic benefits for farmers by taking action now. The Biomass Heat Works campaign sends a clear message to Government and demonstrates how renewable energy, in particular, biomass, must play an integral role in the UK’s future energy mix, especially in rural areas which sits very well alongside our own net zero ambitions. 

“Clear synergies exist between the UK Pellet Council, Wood Heat Association and the NFU, so we are highly supportive of the campaign.”

Recent evidence suggests that the UK could almost triple its use of bioenergy as a heat source from 6% to 16% by 2032 and achieve net zero targets by 2050, with biomass being a major contributor.[2]As yet, no other measures are tabled by Government for when the RHI closes to new applications in March 2021, and this lack of forward planning is having significant impact on the development of future projects, especially for larger scale biomass heat schemes, potential new jobs as well as creating increasing uncertainty within the wider biomass supply chain. 

ENDS 30 Sept 2019

[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fishing-industry-in-2017-statistics-published

[2]https://www.bioenergy-strategy.com/


Urgent calls for Government to extend the RHI following new bioenergy review report…

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Urgent calls for the UK Government to extend (and commit to) the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme after 2021 have been made by the Biomass Heat Works! campaign following today’s publication of a new bioenergy report (05 September 2019).

Leaders from the biomass industry, including the UK Pellet Council (UKPC) and the Wood Heat Association (WHA) which are behind the Biomass Heat Works! campaign, are urging ministers to act now and specify biomass as the most proven solution for addressing heat decarbonisation, especially in rural areas, after evidence suggests that the UK could almost triple its use of bioenergy as a heat source from 6% to 16% by 2032 and achieve net zero targets by 2050, with biomass being a major contributor.[1]

Serious calls for an extension to the RHI scheme are now being made after the launch of the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) ‘Bioenergy Strategy Review’ report. This would allow new renewable heat projects to be funded thereby helping the UK to meet EU targets by 2020 (12% heat source) and also its net zero emission pledge by 2050.

As yet, no other measures are tabled by Government for when the RHI closes to new applications in March 2021, and this lack of forward planning is having significant impact on the development of future projects, especially for larger scale biomass heat schemes, potential new jobs as well as creating increasing uncertainty within the wider biomass supply chain.

Biomass contributes to more than 46,000 jobs across the UK’s bioenergy sector equating to almost four times the number of people working in UK fisheries (11,700 with 2,000 of these being part-time jobs[2]) and 14,000 more jobs than the steel industry[3]. Given the current economic and environmental climate, biomass should, therefore, play a key role in the country’s future renewable energy mix.

Mark Lebus, Chair of the UK Pellet Council, explained, “Time is running out and this latest report backs our call for the Government to fully support and invest in the UK’s biomass heat industry. Ministers need to address the heat decarbonisation issue here and now, and enable the most effective, commercially ready and proven, low carbon solution, ie biomass, to play an integral role in delivering their objectives and reducing carbon emissions.  

“The biomass heat industry supports circa 700+ supply chain companies and this must be protected, especially in rural communities where biomass can create a workable circular economy across farming, agriculture and forestry sectors. It is often the most viable and lowest carbon option available to businesses and households in off-gas grid areas.

“By extending the RHI, which has already demonstrated significant return on investment for successive Governments, we can maintain industry growth and momentum, create further employment stability, stimulate an extra 150MW of thermal capacity annually, and provide certainty amongst consumers as carbon pricing and fossil fuel duties take effect. The Government cannot afford to simply let this drop off a cliff edge.

“Ministers must act now and send a very strong signal to the market to discourage fossil fuel usage, encouraging the use of renewable alternatives, and a time-limited extension and open commitment to a more simplified version of the RHI would achieve that.”

Renewable heat generation increased by 11% in 2018 with almost 50% of this increase being due to biomass alone, However, in relation to decarbonising heat in other European countries and their reliance on bioheat, the UK (5.6%) is lagging way behind its counterparts including Sweden (59.5%), Finland (50.7%) and Portugal (33.8%)[4] at a time when it has declared a climate emergency. The Biomass Heat Works! campaign is therefore urging the UK Government to build on the most successful renewable heating programme instead of abandoning it.

ENDS 05 Sept 2019

The Bioenergy Strategy, which identifies the importance of increasing deployment of biomass heat, is available here: https://www.bioenergy-strategy.com/publications

Approximately 18% of renewable heat was supported by the RHI in 2018 compared with 14% in 2017, with non-domestic heat generation supported by the scheme increasing by 32% (medium capacity biomass boilers accounting for 50%)[5]

[1] https://www.bioenergy-strategy.com/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fishing-industry-in-2017-statistics-published

[3] https://fullfact.org/economy/british-steel/

[4] Bioenergy Europe Statistical Report 2018

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/digest-of-uk-energy-statistics-dukes-2019

 

Are rural areas and farming communities being forgotten about in the heat decarbonisation debate? Neil Holland of the UK Pellet Council discusses…

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“New legislation committing the UK to zero carbon emission targets by 2050 now means that the Government needs to find the most proven, sustainable and commercially-viable routes to achieving its objectives. The decarbonisation of heat, in particular, in rural and farming areas, needs a clear, effective strategy so that those living, working and operating businesses in off-gas grid communities aren’t left behind their urban counterparts.

 “With support and investment, biomass could massively uplift the rural economy and create new jobs across all areas including farming, agriculture and forestry. It’s everything from effective woodland management, encouraging sustained year-long work for agricultural contractors; farming through the summer months and increased trade during the winter (heating) season, and farm businesses being able to rival international competition with lower energy costs.

“At the moment, less than half of the UK’s forestry is managed and that’s partly due to a perceived low value. However, by demonstrating a clear need for wood for biomass – only using the low value tree parts – we have a very strong argument that would create a highly sustainable rural economy, good employment opportunities and business growth in sectors like farming, better woodland management and ultimately, contribute to 2050 carbon reduction targets. We can develop a workable circular economy for the UK’s rural sectors which stems from the fact that a boiler needs biomass fuel for approximately 20 years.

“The ‘Biomass Heat Works!’ campaign is asking farming communities as well as residents, businesses and anyone living in rural areas to get on board and support our call to action.More often than not, it is also the lowest carbon option available to rural homes and businesses, particularly farms who have been early adopters of the technology. 

 “We could see consumer demand increase from 5.5% in 2020 to 15% in 2032* and create over 100,000 jobs in predominantly rural areas, so we’re calling for biomass heating to be at the centre of the Government’s rural economic and energy initiatives moving forward.

“Also, in the context of a climate emergency, ministers cannot afford to rely on as yet unproven technologies which are years away from commercialisation. Biomass is a well-established energy resource in the UK and whilst we aren’t clear as to future decarbonisation strategies, now is the time to deliver a positive and targeted campaign and call for biomass to be recognised.”

“Many leading European countries have seen huge success supporting their biomass industries. We, as a fast-growing sector with a well-established supply chain serving rural areas, need the same from our own Government. That’s why the UK Pellet Council and Wood Heat Association are calling on ministers to take heed of recent reports and recognise biomass as the most fit-for-purpose solution to deliver rural heat decarbonisation when the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) ends in 2021.”


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Chair of the UK Pellet Council (UKPC), Mark Lebus, was interviewed by Bioenergy Insight Magazine following the launch of the Biomass Heat Works! campaign.

Here he discusses the success of the biomass industry, well-established and sustainable, UK-wide supply chains and the key role that biomass has to play moving forward as part of the UK’s renewable energy mix. Read the full interview here…