Policy briefing on UK biomass subsidies

Photo: Dogwood Alliance

Forest in North Carolina clearcut for wood pellets Photo: Dogwood Alliance

Subsidies for biomass electricity must be stopped and diverted to low-carbon renewables and energy saving measures

Executive Summary:

In 2015, energy companies received £817 million in UK subsidies for burning solid biomass for electricity, the vast majority of it wood. This figure is expected to increase substantially in future, given increases in capacity and a higher subsidy rate for new biomass schemes guaranteed by already awarded Contracts for Difference.
In 2014/15 power stations burned pellets and woodchips made from almost 15 million tonnes of green wood for electricity.2 No biomass capacity has been added since then. In contrast, the UK’s total wood production in 2015 was just 10.8 million tonnes. The UK is now the world’s number one importer of wood pellets, most of them from North America.
Far from helping to reduce carbon emissions and make the UK’s energy system more sustainable, biomass electricity results in high upfront and long-term carbon emissions, whilst harming forests and biodiversity.