A competition to drive forward advanced biofuels will help development in the sector, but an unclear policy framework is still hindering investment says the Renewable Energy Association (REA)
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) has welcomed the launch of a government competition to drive development in the advanced biofuels sector but also warns that policy frameworks still need to be clarified in order to provide certainty for investors.
REA Head of Renewable Transport, Clare Wenner, commented that advanced biofuels made using unconventional methods and feedstocks, including wastes, can achieve exceptionally high environmental performance and so the UK could certainly take a lead in developing the sector, driving growth and creating jobs. However, the government also needs to give a signal to investors that the regulatory framework for renewable transport fuels will be extended beyond 2020 to at least 2030 in order to give competition entrants assurance that their investments will be underpinned by legislation.
Responding to Transport Minister Norman Baker’s comments in The Guardian in which Mr Baker mentioned the need to “distinguish between good biofuels and bad biofuels”, Ms Wenner said that although the Minister is absolutely right to say that advanced biofuels are ‘good’ it is misleading to imply that current biofuels are ‘bad’.”
“Current biofuels, which meet strict sustainability criteria, can make a major contribution to renewable energy and emissions reduction targets in the short term, and enable the investments for R&D into advanced biofuels, with even better environmental performance, over the medium term.” Ms Wenner added. “The key missing ingredient for both is a clear and supportive policy framework.”
The REA has also responded to the outcome of the government’s consultation on the notification process for new build dedicated biomass power projects under the Renewables Obligation (RO). The government is proposing that the notification process should be used to allocate places within the 400MW cap on total new build generating capacity that can expect grandfathered support under the dedicated biomass band under the Renewables Obligation. The consultation attracted 18 responses in total.
“We urge government not to carry on down this road of opposition to new dedicated biomass power” said Head of Policy Paul Thompson. “Biomass has all the benefits of gas or coal fired generation, but without the carbon drawbacks. It is the perfect solution for affordable, on-demand, low carbon electricity at a time when this is badly needed to meet renewable energy targets and prevent a capacity crunch.”