The important contribution that waste wood biomass is making in the transition away from fossil fuels must not be overlooked by government policy, according to the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA).
The WRA has written to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) ahead of the launch of the department’s much-anticipated Biomass Strategy, highlighting the sector’s crucial contribution to providing renewable, baseload power and energy security for the UK.
The letter comes after waste wood biomass was not mentioned in a report published last week (January 5) by the Environmental Audit Committee on how to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels. While not part of the government, the EAC has an influential role in scrutinising the government’s environmental policy and making recommendations.
Waste wood biomass was also largely absent from the government’s Biomass Policy Statement, published in November 2021 as a precursor to the Biomass Strategy.
The waste wood biomass sector has the capacity to generate 470MW of low carbon baseload power for the UK, equivalent to 3.3TWh per annum, supplying enough reliable power for 840,000 UK households and accounting for 1% of annual UK power consumption.
It also prevents methane emissions by diverting lower-quality waste wood, which is not suitable for recycling, away from landfill.
Richard Coulson, chair of the WRA, said: “We noted the Environmental Audit Committee report on the fossil fuel transition and are disappointed that waste wood gets no mention again. We hope that this doesn’t set a precedent for the upcoming Biomass Strategy.
“Whilst we welcome the focus of the report being the urgency to transition from fossil fuel dependence to both improve our climate and energy security and it highlighting the important role renewable energy such as wind and solar can and must play, we’re at a loss why waste wood biomass is not mentioned as providing important baseload power.
“Waste wood provides all the benefits of other renewables, but also brings the additional advantage of baseload power from our own domestic waste.”
Mr Coulson added that it was important that the sector was eligible for support to deliver even more carbon benefits through the use of greenhouse gas removals technologies.
He said: “With the correct future business models in place, we can protect all of the benefits our sector delivers today and further develop it to encompass CCUS [carbon capture, utilisation and storage] technologies.”