COP 26 has precipitated a number of government publications setting out strategies for our Net Zero future. One of these has been a Biomass Policy Statement which has been long awaited by many in the energy sector. Having taken some time to read this in the last couple of days it’s worth reflecting on the themes and messages that identify the government’s (and therefore the long term policy expectations) position on biomass.
Several key themes come through the document, which demonstrate that biomass has a future within the makeup of the bioenergy economy and that to maintain a position it must adhere to some or all of the following principles, depending on the planned use (see also the diagram below):
- To be worthy of consideration, the use of biomass in a particular situation must demonstrate robust sustainability credentials that ensure adherence to prevailing requirements
- Ideally biomass is sourced from wastes, although crop derived biomass is acceptable under certain circumstances and demonstrate that it is not causing adverse impact, either directly or indirectly
- Combustion emissions must adhere to air quality criteria to ensure minimal local pollution effects
- Carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be fitted, especially in heat and power uses to provide minimal carbon emissions
It’s clear from the messaging in the policy statement that under some circumstances (especially heat and power provision) the use of biomass should be considered only when all other options have been explored and are not acceptable, especially for technical reasons. For example where temperature requirements in industry require elevated temperatures above those possible for heat pumps and the use of hydrogen is not sufficiently advanced or proven.
Hydrogen is mentioned in some detail in the document, specifically in the context of using biomass to aid its production. This is one area in which the use of biomass is favourably considered, alongside gasification.
The paper is well worth a read by those of you who are interested in knowing more - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1031057/biomass-policy-statement.pdf
The following diagram is an excerpt from the policy statement demonstrating how the use of biomass must be considered and adherences that are required.