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21 Sep 2018

Giving Biomass a positive voice for the future

By Linda Taylor, Group Marketing Director

It’s fair to say that biomass has been given quite a bad press over the last few years. The scandal over RHI payments in Northern Ireland, burning wood and its potential impact on air quality and general question marks over how ‘green’ biomass is, have served to tarnish the reputation of what is a renewable, low cost and low carbon energy source.

All these factors combined have overshadowed the positive benefits biomass heat and power has to offer. In my role at AMP as Group Marketing Director, which owns the market leading fuel supplier Forest Fuels, I have seen first-hand a wide variety of organisations benefit from biomass – from community housing associations, schools, farmers, hotels to large industrials. The facts speak for themselves – biomass CHP delivers 30% energy saving versus conventional grid power and a state-of-the-art gas boiler. Biomass also enables organisations to de-risk themselves from volatile fossil fuel prices. And as this technology tends to be used over  a long term, organisations also benefit from energy security and fixed term costs.

When we look at the role of biomass in the UK’s energy mix it is pretty significant. Solid biomass contributed 86% of our renewable heat sources and biofuels 15% of our renewable electricity sources over the last year[1]. And the REA Review of 2018 said it was the fast-growing sub sectors, including biomass boilers, biomass power and heat pumps, along with the continued growth of wind energy, which drove the growth in employment of the UK’s renewable energy sector over the last year. Put simply without bioenergy the UK would have no chance of meetings its 2020 renewable energy targets.

Bioenergy is making a significant and growing contribution to the UK’s clean growth ambitions. It would also help enormously if the industry was able to be more proactively promoting the sector, rather than having to be reactive and defend itself over issues, which in general, are not relevant to the vast majority of the market.

For all these reasons, I am standing for election to the board of the Wood Heat Association (WHA), a subsidiary of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), which brings together and represents the biomass industry. The WHA plays a crucial role in promoting the value of biomass, and, if elected, I would like to help ensure it is the clear voice of the industry. As an experienced marketeer and communicator, I would help raise the profile of the sector and highlight the important role biomass plays in our renewable energy mix. In the UK our energy outlook is changing, and I want to ensure the role of biomass is recognised as we transition to a low carbon economy.

[1] REA (2018) REview 2018, available here: http://www.nnebooks.co.uk/REA/REA%20REview%202018/index.html