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Ministers to unveil bioenergy strategy

Ministers are set to publish a UK bioenergy strategy next month, energy minister Greg Barker has told MPs.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) minister said the cross-government strategy would help build a “holistic view of biomass” in order to develop bioenergy policy.  

He said: “Key for the strategy has been understanding the value of the alternative uses of biomass in decarbonising the economy, in terms of both cost-effectiveness and carbon-effectiveness.

“There are very real questions as to what is the best of use of the world’s limited biomass feedstocks and, indeed, how far bioenergy saves carbon compared with fossil fuels.”

The announcement followed ministers’ previous pledge to publish a review “by the spring”.

Bioenergy strategy

DECC’s biomass strategy review seeks to address three main issues:

  • The availability of sustainable feedstocks to 2020 and beyond
  • The potential impacts (economic and carbon) of using biomass in the energy sector against alternative uses
  • The possibilities and implications of different uses of biomass feedstocks in the energy sector (electricity, heat and transport) to 2020 and beyond, taking into account wider government objectives, such as cost effectiveness, carbon abatement potential, renewables targets and security of supply

DECC said: “Once completed, the strategy will aim to set out a strategic framework for use of bioenergy across heat, electricity and transport in order to achieve the cost effective delivery of our 2020 goals in a way that is consistent with other objectives across the economy and longer term carbon reduction ambitions to 2050.”

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During the House of Commons debate, backbenchers raised concerns about air pollution and stressed the need to make sure that all biomass was not tarnished with the same the brush as a result of some “bad” biomass plants.   

Blackley and Broughton Labour MP Graham Stringer said: “I start from the assumption that biomass is a promising technology that could, if handled correctly, help to reduce our net carbon emissions in the context of Government policy.

“My reservations relate to the air pollution emissions from biomass and to whether we have sufficiently robust sustainability criteria.”

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