Renew On Line (UK) 63

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 163 Sept-Oct 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. The Energy Review - more of everything 

2. Reactions to Energy Review-  not all happy

3. Submissions to the Energy Review- more inputs 

4.Yet more reviews.- from the Tories, the Carbon Trust and Stern

5. Around the UK- marine projects in Scotland

6. Energy Efficiency - Lords get tough

7. FoE: Waste burn ‘not green’

8. Biomass- will it ever grow? 

9. EU Developments -  more from Germany

10. US Developments-  ethanol and wind boom

11. World developments- Planet warms, G8 not so hot 

12. Nuclear News- Chernobyl still with us

8. Biomass- will it ever grow? 

Responding to the report that emerged from Sir Ken Gills Biomass Task Force last Oct., the government has produced an action plan which accepts that energy from crops, trees and waste can make a strong contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It sets out 12 ways to try to make this happen, including a capital grant scheme for biomass boilers; the establishment of a new Biomass Energy Centre to provide expert information and advice, along with further grant support for biomass supply chains and a commitment to consider using biomass heating in Government buildings.  

The Biomass Task Force argued that biomass is particularly suited for generating heat and this has been accepted by the Government, though the action plan makes clear that electricity generated from biomass and combined heat and power (CHP) are also an important part of its future.

Lord Bach, Defra’s Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, said: ‘There is enormous potential in biomass, to generate renewable energy, to help the environment and to provide another possible market for our farmers. We know that biomass is not the answer to every issue facing us but we should be getting much more from this valuable resource.’

At one time it was thought that energy crops- specially grown biomass,  such as Short Rotation willow Coppice- could supply as much as if not more than the other renewables put together, but progress has been agonisingly slow. Minister for Energy, Malcolm Wicks, clearly hoped that a new start could be now be made: ‘The plans we are announcing and the Biomass strategy that is being developed will supplement initiatives such as the DTI’s Low Carbon Building programme and the bioenergy capital grants scheme to further increase the use of biomass technology. We are aiming for 10% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2010 and double that by 2020 so biomass will have an increasingly important role to play in the UK’s future energy mix.’  

Biomass currently accounts for 84% of UK renewable energy generation, and 1.4% of total energy, but most from wastes of various sorts. So far, energy crop production has been minimal.

The Biomass Task Force made 42 recommendations to Government. The Government’s Response accepts most of these, setting out plans for implementing them and notes that a number of initiatives have already begun. Key points are: 

* A new 5 year capital grant scheme for biomass boilers, with funding of £10-£15 million over the first two years and a second round of the Bio-energy Infrastructure Scheme, with funding at, or close to the level, proposed by the Task Force (announced in the Climate Change Programme Review); 

* Agreement in principle to support for energy crops under the new Rural Development Programme for England to be introduced in 2007, closely integrated with bioenergy market development; 

* Announcement of the Forestry Commission’s new Biomass Energy Centre as a major new hub for bioenergy advice and best practice for industry and the public; 

* Further measures to integrate environmental assessment in the planning of energy crop development; 

* Government leadership through public procurement, including the commitment to map the potential use of biomass across the main procuring departments of the Government estate; 

* Working with Regional Development Agencies and other organisations to ensure effective, co-ordinated mechanisms for delivery of policy and advice; 

* Action already taken, since publication of the Task Force report, to improve the Renewables Obligation and implementation of the associated procedures; 

* Use of the planning system to stimulate renewables development, including our support for planning authorities applying a minimum percentage of renewable energy in new developments; 

* Action to address regulatory barriers identified by the Task Force and to develop standards to improve efficacy and confidence in biomass; 

* Our thinking on the use of energy from waste, which is subject to conclusions from the current review of Waste Strategy and the Energy Review; and 

* Support for the EU Biomass Action Plan and agreement on UK membership of the  Global Bioenergy Partnership from its launch in May 2006. 

* The introduction of new Building Regulations, from April 2006, with new procedures and tougher standards which will encourage the use of Low or Zero Carbon (LZC) systems, such as biomass. 

The action plan is primarily for England, but the Devolved Administrations  helped in its development and it will also contribute to a UK biomass strategy, to be published next year. It’s


The Biomass Task Force report is  at:   The Energy Review said energy crops might be a candidate for a ‘band’ in the revised RO.  

Green UK 

In terms of total green power capacity, the East, and NE have shown considerable recent growth, with 60 MW of offshore wind in the East and 37 MW of onshore wind in the NE. So says the governments latest digest of UK energy statistics- DUKES. Of the 14,171 GWh of green power generated across the UK in 2004, 4,9230 came from landfill gas, 4,004 from hydro, 1,935 from wind and wave, and 3,299 GWh from other biofuels, with solar PV at 4 GWh. Output in 2002 was 11,080 GWh, of which hydro was 4,788, 2,632 from landfill gas, 1,256 from wind and wave, and 2,401 GWh from other biofuels, with solar PV pushing the national total to 11,077 GWh.

Between 2002 and 2004 there was a 28% increase in generation from renewables in the UK, but faster rates of growth were recorded in Wales (33%), the North West (50%), Yorkshire and the Humber (62%), the East Midlands (68%) and the North East (183%). For individual technologies, hydro doubled in the North West, while wind generation in Scotland increased 96%. 

And taking a longer view, it can all look quite encouraging. Total generation of green power increased 250% from 1996 to 2004, from 5,685 to 14,171 GWh, with the increase being led by biofuels, which rose four-fold over the period to provide 7,302 GWh of the total. Of that sector, landfill gas rose 570% to 4,004 GWh, while co-firing with fossil fuels rose to 1,022, municipal solid waste combustion increased to 971, sewage sludge digestion rose to 379 and other biofuels increased to 6,122 GWh in 2004. 

Large-scale hydro (excluding pumped storage) was the second best for output, generating 4,648 GWh with an increase of 140% over 1996. Small hydro rose 240% to 282 GWh. Onshore wind rose 360%, from 488 to 1,736 GWh, including a rise of 140% from 2003 to 2004, while offshore wind grew from nothing to 199 GWh over the period. Solar PV rose to 4 GWh in 2004. 

In terms of installed electrical capacity, biofuels and wastes rose from 452 MW in 1996 to 1,333 MW in 2004, a three-fold increase, while large hydro increased to 1,406 and small hydro to 184 MW. Onshore wind was 809 MW by the end of 2004 while offshore turbines accounted for 124 MW of capacity, with shoreline wave facilities at 0.5 MW and solar PV at 8.2 GW. Total installed capacity for green power rose 170% over the period, from 2,271 MW in 1996 to 3,865 in 2004. Biofuels provided the highest load factors at 66%, while hydro was 35%, onshore wind was 26.6% and offshore turbines were assessed at 24.2%. 

The UK generated 9,986 GWh of green power in 2004 on an Renewables Obligation basis and 17,693 GWh on an EU Renewables Directive basis. For the RO, biofuels accounted for 6,331, while onshore wind was 1,736, refurbished large hydro was 1,434, small hydro was 282, offshore wind was 199 and solar PV was 4 GWh in that year. On a EU Renewables Directive basis, biofuels is rated at 7,302 GWh, large hydro at 4,648, imports of certified electricity at 3,522, onshore wind at 1,736, small-scale hydro at 282, offshore wind at 199 and solar PV at 4 GWh.    Sources: DTI/ ReFocus Weekly

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