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DECC, DfT and Defra have jointly published a new biomass strategy which aims to produce 11 per cent of UK energy from biomass by 2020. The Government says the strategy will support 50,000 jobs and insulate the economy from external shocks such as sharply rising fossil fuel prices as well as helping to cut carbon emissions.
DECC's press release says that bioenergy, or biomass as it is most commonly referred, is one of the most versatile forms of low carbon and renewable generation.
It can be used to produce heat, electricity or transport fuel. It can provide a continuous and constant flow of energy. It can create opportunities for growth along the supply chain both in the UK and abroad.
Between April 2011 and February 2012, industry has announced investments totalling over £1.75bn for UK biomass technologies.
The Government believes that with the right mechanisms in place by 2020 as much as 11 per cent to the UK's total primary energy demand could come from domestic and international biomass resources without jeopardising sustainability - across heat, transport and electricity.
Biomass targets for 2050 remain uncertain and these, says the Government, depend on technical advances.
The Government has also published a rigorous analysis of the carbon impacts of the use (and non-use) of wood for energy, and a study of the opportunities and trade-offs of different bioenergy deployment pathways.
The Strategy contains four key principles to guide UK bioenergy policy. First, bioenergy must offer genuine carbon savings to 2050 and beyond. Second, it must be cost-effective in meeting energy and climate change objectives. Third, it must take into account the needs of the wider bioeconomy. And finally, it must be ready to respond to any risks to key priorities such as food security and biodiversity.
The Government says that the strategy does not seek to provide the answers to all of the numerous questions about bioenergy but that it's clear that it wants bioenergy to deliver a significant amount of low carbon energy.