The bioenergy industry needs more carrot and less stick, argues REA’s Nina Skorupska. The backbone of the renewables revolution. The overlooked giant. The ugly duckling… All these analogies have been used to describe bioenergy, and it is fair to say that it stands in line behind nuclear as the most divisive low carbon technology. We have a number of industry members who have grown increasingly frustrated about the Jekyll and Hyde image bioenergy has unfairly gained. To the REA, bioenergy has always been an essential part of the renewables armoury in the fight against climate change. Bioenergy is the largest contributing renewable technology in the UK, providing 7.4 per cent of primary energy supply, 11 per cent of UK electricity, four per cent of energy used to produce heat and two per cent of energy needed in the transport sector. In fact, UK bioenergy is equivalent to the output of four nuclear plants such as Sizewell B. What’s more, bioenergy is a proven technology. It offers some of the lowest-cost renewable solutions in some of the hardest sectors to decarbonise and delivers on greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Bioenergy’s contribution to our economy is also considerable. It represents £6.5bn to the UK economy and sustains 46,000 jobs, many of which are in our rural areas. Knowing all of this, it is so sadly disappointing to see that bioenergy is still so misunderstood not only within the public but within parliamentary circles. This is where our strategy comes into play. A lot of misperceptions and prejudice surrounding bioenergy’s role in a low carbon future come from outdated information. To add some context, in 2011 the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) produced a Bioenergy Review which directly fed into the government’s 2012 Bioenergy Strategy. In that report it was stated that sustainable bioenergy could provide up to 10 per cent of the UK’s energy needs by 2050. In December 2018, the CCC reviewed this statistic finding that technological advances had seen this number increase to 15 per cent. This is just one example of how far bioenergy has come.
Business Green 3rd April 2019 read more »