The UK Government’s new Bioenergy Strategy released last week aims to accelerate the use of renewable energy generated sustainably from biomass. Bioenergy is stated in the strategy as ‘one of the most versatile forms of low carbon and renewable energy’ and is proposed to be used for heating, electricity and transport fuel.
The Government’s overall goal is to meet the renewables target by 2020 and the carbon reduction targets by 2030 and 2050. To achieve this, the focus has to be on new technologies (e.g. wind, solar) and biomass energy as well. The strategy predicts that 11 per cent of all UK energy will come from biomass by 2020. This number can be achieved sustainably using domestic and international biomass resources and be sustained in the long term in spite of the expected emergence of international demand for biomass feedstock.
The Government also recognise the risks of bioenergy, emphasised by many green organisations. To address the concerns (e.g. food security, biodiversity) the Government states that sustainability and affordability are the highest importance and the strategy sets a framework of principles to guide UK bioenergy policy in the future. Amongst others the principles state that the biomass used for bioenergy has to deliver genuine carbon reductions over its full lifecycle and future bioenergy policies must assess risks to food security and biodiversity.
Alongside the strategy the government released several reports on issues relevant to or affected by the proposed bioenergy strategy. For instance, a report on the UK jobs in the sector highlights that increased use of bioenergy would create around 50,000 jobs by 2020. Analyses on the bioenergy feedstock suggest that the amount of waste going to landfill at the moment would decrease by using it for bioenergy.
The Government used a holistic approach in preparing this strategy but did not seek to answer all the questions about the issue. One thing is perfectly clear though that the Government wants sustainable and affordable bioenergy to be an integral part of UK’s energy production in the future.