Biomass electricity will produce over 70% greenhouse gas savings compared to fossil fuel alternatives, under changes made by the government to ensure the sustainability of wood-fuel used to create energy.

From April 2015, the biomass industry – which is worth over £1bn in new investment and supports over 3,000 jobs – will be required to demonstrate their fuel is sustainable or lose financial support.

Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:

“The Coalition is committed to delivering clean, affordable and secure energy for consumers. This includes an important role for biomass power as part of the UK’s energy mix. The new criteria will provide the necessary investor certainty and, crucially, ensure that the biomass is delivered in a transparent and sustainable way.”

The tough new criteria for sustainable forest management are based on a range of issues such as:

  • ·         sustainable harvesting rates,
  • ·         biodiversity protection and
  • ·         land use rights for indigenous populations.

Organisations who do not comply with the new requirements could see financial support withheld.

All generators of 1 Megawatt (MW) capacity or more using solid biomass or biogas feedstock will be required to demonstrate that they are meeting the criteria in order to claim support under the Renewables Obligation. This would cover around 98% of all biomass power generation in the UK.

We are also today introducing a new requirement for generators of 1MW capacity and above to provide an independent sustainability audit with their annual sustainability report.

Today’s announcement will help bring forward transitional biomass technologies such as coal to biomass conversions which are one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to help decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply.

To provide the certainty that investors and developers need there will be no further unilateral changes to the sustainability criteria before April 2027.