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Biomass should be used to generate Britain's heat

Biomass should be used to generate Britain's heat, according to a report presented to the Government last week.

The Biomass Task Force said that the fuel produced from waste, forestry and crops, could reduce the nation's carbon emissions by almost 3 million tonnes a year if it was used to provide heating.

Biomass Task Force chairman Sir Ben Gill said: "There are many renewable sources of electricity but biomass is the only widely-available source of renewable heat.

"What many see as tomorrow's fuel is here today. We estimate there could be 20 million tonnes of biomass available annually. The challenge for the Government now is to unlock this vast potential."

The task force made 42 recommendations in its report, commissioned jointly by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), after a year-long investigation.

It called for the introduction of capital grants to fund more biomass heating boilers, and gave examples of where these boilers are already operating successfully. Ignorance was blamed as one of the biggest barriers to progress and the Government was recommended to act in the next 6 months to create a single information point on biomass for the country.

DTI energy minister Malcolm Wicks said: "This wide-ranging report leaves us in no doubt that biomass has the potential to make a real and lasting contribution toward renewable energy and heat in the UK."

But the task force has dismissed the idea of a renewable heat obligation - which would require energy suppliers to source a percentage of heating fuel from renewable sources - as "unworkable". In response Friends of the Earth, businesses, farmers and trade associations called on the Government not to close the door on the idea, and said the proposed grants may only be helpful in the short-term, whereas a long-term framework of support was needed.
Wood Energy business development director Stewart

Boyle said: "A Renewable Heat Obligation would allow serious long-term planning and development of this sector. The Task Force have rejected this option far too prematurely and based on little analysis."

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