Biomass can play a key role in helping the UK meet the energy challenges of the future, according to a report published Deloitte, the international consultancy.
The Deloitte analysis holds that biomass is a cost-competitive source of renewable energy, it could aid in the conversion of traditional, coal- fired power stations.
At present the United Kingdom is committed to getting 15 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020, but according to Deloitte, burning woodchip or pellets could play a significant role in meeting climate targets and improving UK energy security, allowing the biomass sector to comfortably meet or exceed the 21 per cent of electricity share it is expected to provide by 2030 under the UK government's Bioenergy Strategy.
“The UK energy industry is facing a number of challenges. Among them energy security, decarbonisation and affordability rank the highest," the report says. “From an energy security perspective, the UK is increasingly relying on imported gas, several fossil fuel plants are shutting under the EU's Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the majority of nuclear plants will be retired by 2023."
Deloitte continues: “To meet legally-binding EU targets and begin decarbonising the electricity sector, the UK has committed to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. However, some of the technologies needed to achieve this goal are intermittent and therefore, to maintain security of supply the overall energy mix needs to be diverse.
“Could energy from biomass make a material contribution to meeting these challenges? Through the 2012 Renewables Obligation Banding Review, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) created a new band for conversion of fossil fuel power stations to biomass, reaffirming support at 1 Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC), at a time when subsidies to other established renewable technologies were reduced. The 2011 Renewables Obligation Banding Review consultation document suggests that biomass could contribute up to 21 per cent of the 2020 renewable energy targets from a very low base today,” the report says.
Deloitte said it had modelled the attractiveness of biomass projects to potential investors, and the report adds: “Our findings indicate that full conversion of fossil fuel power plants, and conventional and enhanced co-firing offer the best return on capital invested."