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UK lacks proper dialogue on biomass worth

Energy consumers face rising bills and a fast-approaching shortfall in electricity generating capacity. They deserve honesty and clarity about their options.

Few energy sources match solid biomass in offering baseload energy, security of supply, cost-effectiveness and ability to ramp up when we need it - before 2015.

Far from being a “reckless” choice, as some activists claim, it can and is being done sustainably. It will also cost the UK £44bn more to decarbonise without it.

It is misleading to imply that a thriving British biomass sector would depend solely on British wood, swallowing up domestic supplies so there is none left for any other use. In fact, most of the supply is expected to be imported from Canada and the US, where supplies are plentiful.

Electricity fuel imports are not new; we ship in most of our coal and a significant amount of gas. What is different is the Government’s requirement that the biomass supply chain shows an independently verifiable minimum 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with the EU fossil fuels grid average. This is only possible with sustainable sourcing and supply chains.

Groups calling for a rejection of biomass rely on misused Government data and widely discredited pseudo-science divorced from the reality of the industry.

It is time for a positive dialogue, rooted in evidence not emotion, so we can deliver a much-needed source of energy to the UK.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive, Renewable Energy Association

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