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Bioenergy Strategy Phase 3: Delivering the UK's Bioenergy Potential

In the final instalment of the REA’s Industry-led Bioenergy Strategy we look at the key actions required to realise bioenergy's essential role in achieving net zero.

  

Already providing 7.4% of primary energy supply, bioenergy’s contribution must more than double by 2032 if the UK is to address impending deficits, such as the looming nuclear gap, and meet growing electricity demand in the heat and transport sectors.

 

As well as delivering a further 117 TWh across heat and power, sustainably doubling the deployment of bioenergy would see up to 80 million tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually – more than enough to bridge the nuclear gap and meet the shortfall in the carbon budgets.

 

Both the Science and Technology Commons Select Committee and the Committee on Climate Change have urged the Government to prioritise resolving the policy gap obstructing the deployment of new sources of heat and power generation. Without this, the UK will lose valuable markets, expertise and resource in the run up to net zero.

 

The strategy sets out a comprehensive list of policy actions and industry commitments now needed to achieve the UK’s legally binding commitments and drive forward the industry. Key recommendations include an obligation on gas suppliers to blend in a minimum amount of renewable gas following commitments made in the Spring Statement; urgently renewing support for renewable heat once the Renewable Heat Incentive comes to an end and an auction mechanism akin to those used to establish the offshore wind sector, to kick-start the market for capturing and storing carbon.

Key recommendations in the report include:
 

  • Introducing a replacement to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), currently funded until 2021. A replacement scheme is required to secure a market for renewable heat technologies including biomass boilers, anaerobic digestion and biofuels.  A heat premium feed-in scheme could ensure continued growth in these markets;
     

  • Growing biomethane production as a way of greening the gas grid via the introduction of a “Green Gas Obligation”;
     

  • Introducing the much delayed 10% ethanol blend for petrol (E10) in the transport sector, and raising ambitions within the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO);
     

  • Supporting the development of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture Use and Storage (BECCUS) including a Contract for Difference (CfD) for bioelectricity with CCUS.
     

  • Ensuring a progressive increase in carbon prices across the energy economy; reaching £70-80/t CO2 by 2026, and over £120 by 2032.


     

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Bioenergy Strategy Phase 2: A Vision to 2032 and Beyond

In the second instalment of the REA’s Industry-led Bioenergy Strategy we look towards what Bioenergy can deliver out to 2032 and beyond, making a significant contribution to the decarbonisations of the heat, transport and power sectors.

 

The report finds that the sustainable use of bioenergy is core to the UK meeting its legally binding 5th Carbon Budget.

 

By increasing its deployment by a factor of 2.5 by 2032, sustainable bioenergy, which is currently the UK’s leading source of renewable energy, has the potential to meet both the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) projected shortfall of the 5th Carbon Budget and the impending nuclear gap by providing an additional 117 TWh across heat, transport and power.

 

Last month, the Committee on Climate Change published their net-zero by 2050 recommendations just three weeks after data from BEIS confirmed that the UK are not on track to meet the 4th and 5th Carbon Budgets. Bioenergy technologies, such as modern biomass boilers, biofuels and anaerobic digestion, offer an immediate and affordable route to tackling these challenges by providing instantaneous carbon reductions in the hard to decarbonise areas of heat and transport.

 

The report builds upon bioenergy’s already impressive credentials by outlining its potential contribution to the UK’s energy mix in 2032 and beyond. The delivery of the outlined vision would see the demand for bioenergy’s overall energy contribution increase from 5.5% in 2020 to 15% in 2032 creating over 100,000 jobs.

A full briefing of the second interim report is also available here.

If you'd like to stay up to date on this project and other renewables news, you can follow the REA on Twitter:

Bioenergy Strategy Phase 1: Bioenergy in the UK - The State of Play

This is the first instalment of the REA’s industry-led Bioenergy Strategy for the United Kingdom, which aims to set out a clear vision for the role bioenergy has to play in the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy requirements across power, heat and transport up to 2030 and beyond.

Phase one of this report reveals Bioenergy as a major contributor to cutting emissions and boosting green jobs in the UK today.

Bioenergy, which uses sustainable biomass and biofuels produced from wood, crops and food wastes, is already the UK’s leading source of renewable energy, meeting 7.4% of our total energy needs. Only wind exceeds its output in the renewable power sector

 

Bio-based fuel technologies are estimated to cut 19.7 million tonnes of CO2e per year, replacing £21 billion worth of fossil fuels and supporting 46,000 jobs throughout the UK.

The Committee on Climate Change projected last year that bioenergy could double as a proportion of the UK’s primary energy supply by 2050. However, promises made in 2012 by the Coalition government to renew its strategy by 2017 failed to materialise, leaving the sector to drift. The gaps in the policy and regulatory framework are now growing, with existing support mechanisms ending, and the pipeline for future bioenergy projects being constrained.
 




A full briefing of the first interim report is also available here.

If you'd like to stay up to date on this project and other renewables news, you can follow the REA on Twitter: