All generators of 1 Megawatt (MW) capacity or more using solid biomass or biogas feedstock will be required to demonstrate that they are meeting the criteria in order to claim support under the Renewables Obligation. This would cover around 98% of all biomass power generation in the UK.
A requirement for generators of 1MW capacity and above to provide an independent sustainability audit with their annual sustainability report has also been introduced.
By 2020, biomass generators of 1MW and above will have to meet a 200 kg CO2eq per MWh annual target (72% saving compared to the EU fossil fuel electricity average). This reduces further to a 180 kg CO2eq per MWh from 2025 (75% saving compared to the EU fossil fuel electricity average). A threshold of 1MW and above covers around 98% of biomass power generation. The other 2% (those with a capacity between 50kW and 1MW) will be required to report against the criteria, but not to comply with it. Microgeneration (under 50kW) are not included in the scope.
The criteria for sustainable forest management are based on a range of issues such as sustainable harvesting rates, biodiversity protection and land use rights for indigenous populations. Organisations who do not comply with the new requirements could see financial support withheld, the government says.
“The new criteria will provide the necessary investor certainty and, crucially, ensure that the biomass is delivered in a transparent and sustainable way,” said Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change.
The biomass industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion in new investment and supports over 3,000 jobs.