CCC: make more use of home grown energy crops

The UK should expand its use of bioenergy to deliver carbon savings, the Climate Change Committee said in its report published today (23 January). But support should be limited and the best use of biomass kept under review.

The report said expanding energy crops by around 23,000Ha would deliver 2MtCO2e emissions savings in the land sector and an extra 11 MtCO2e from the harvested biomass, if it was used with carbon capture and storage.

In the short term, biomass combustion should continue to be excluded from the EU ETS (or its UK successor), the CCC said. Financial support should come from existing market mechanisms (the Renewables Obligation and Contracts for Difference). In the longer term policies may change because biomass may be better used in construction and with carbon capture and storage.

The CCC said government should introduce a requirement for biomass combustion facilities to source a fixed proportion of their crops from the UK and offer financial support, such as low-interest loans, to cover the loss of income while the crop is being established.

Nina Skorupska, chief executive, Renewable Energy Association: “In this report the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) sets out the massive opportunity and role for British farmers – to use bioenergy to increase their income, boost tree cover and cut carbon emissions, as the REA argued in its Bioenergy Strategy. The CCC have made clear that the growth of energy crops and biomass for sustainable energy production are important elements of good land management and part of a strategy for meeting the net zero carbon emissions target.

“Government must act quickly to deliver the CCC’s recommendations, in particular when it comes to ensuring growth in domestic energy crops and biomass demand. In the next few months government must come forward with a renewed heat decarbonisation policy, as the current Renewable Heat Incentive, which supports the deployment of bioenergy heat applications, ends in 2021. In addition government should finally introduce the move to 10% renewable fuels in petrol (E10), as well as announce how they intend to reward ‘carbon negative’ technologies such as bioenergy carbon capture, usage and storage.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive and founder, Good Energy, said: “We fully support the Committee’s call for expanding the UK’s energy crops, which offers us a homegrown and secure source of clean energy.”