The Department of Energy and Climate Change, DECC, is bringing in a new method for suppliers of biomass fuels. This will show they comply with standards for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The new ‘approved list’ will mean people purchasing biomass can be confident that the fuel they buy meets the RHI sustainability criteria.
Initially the method will focus on the greenhouse gas criteria, and suppliers must show their biomass fuels save at least 60% of the EU average emissions for heating*. This will be mandatory next year, and comes from an EU Directive on renewable energy. Next year, the method will add RHI ‘land criteria’, assessing ecological aspects of the way timber and biomass products are grown – including their effect on biodiversity, primary forest, peat and wetland.
The List could be really big – perhaps as big as the Feed-In Tariffs for photovoltaics, and move biomass heating from a peripheral side-show into the big tent
There will be a public-facing website for people wishing to choose a biomass supplier, and a supplier-facing website for suppliers to register for the approved list. It will be a little like the NEF’s Log Pile page, but with a more sophisticated assessment procedure. DECC is very keen to make the List available to overseas suppliers as well as home-grown firms.
Why should we care about this? The Renewable Heat Incentive will pay 12.2 pence a unit to households that install a biomass boiler, or pellet-only stoves with back-boilers. This will tip the balance and make it financially attractive to install biomass heating in UK homes. It could be really big – perhaps as big as the Feed-In Tariffs for photovoltaics, and move biomass heating from a peripheral side-show into the big tent for heating our homes.
Put simply, it could prompt a new dash for biomass, and make huge savings in climate change emissions from homes.
*The emissions criterion translates into 0.12428 kgCO2 per kWh, or about 70% of the carbon emissions of gas (Forgive the spurious accuracy – this comes from DECC’s interpretation of an EU Directive). This is not very challenging, and meeting this should be a piece of cake for most UK suppliers.