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WPIF: Use of biomass will increase carbon emissions, not reduce them

The Wood Panel Industry Federation (WPIF) has accused the Government of wrongly using biomass technology as part of the proposed solution to cut 80% carbon emissions by 2050.

Plans from the Department of Energy and Climate Control for the Fourth Carbon Budget, announced on 17 May, will rely on increased use of and investment in renewable electricity and heat from wind, wave and tidal sources as well as biomass. This is following recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change, on which the Government based its proposals, featured biomass heavily as an answer to helping the UK’s industrial sector cut emissions.

But WPIF director general Alastair Kerr has warned that biomass could actually increase carbon emissions and create larger household bills for consumers. In addition, the WPIF is spearheading a campaign to highlight the effect that the renewables obligation (RO) could have on the wood panel industry by potentially redirecting wood towards the biomass industry.

Kerr said: “The consequence of redirecting, through subsidy, the wood we use today into energy generation would result in a net increase in CO2 emissions totalling six million tonnes per year – which is bad news for the environment and the taxpayer. It will drive industries and jobs abroad. Once the UK wood and wood waste supply dries up, wood will have to be imported, leading to increased costs passed to consumers, and additional carbon emissions through transportation.

“The message is simple. There is not enough wood available in the UK to support the number and scale of biomass electricity plants that are being proposed for development. The RO subsidies promote the burning of wood rather than locking up the carbon through use, re-use, recycling and only then burning it for energy. This goes against the grain of our own industry practice and the Government’s previously stated support for the waste hierarchy.”

The Government said it will announce a package of measures to reduce the effect of policy on the cost of electricity for energy-intensive industries and to help them adjust to the low-carbon industrial transformation. It will continue to argue for an EU move to a 30% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020.

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