Already providing 7.4% of primary energy supply, bioenergy’s contribution must more than double by 2032 if the UK is to address impending deficits, such as the looming nuclear gap, and meet growing electricity demand in the heat and transport sectors.
“As we move to a more flexible and decentralised energy system, the role of bioenergy is vital,” said Dr Adam Brown, author of the Bioenergy Strategy report.
“Accommodating for the dispatchable energy required to moderate growing electricity demand and offering immediate and affordable solutions for the decarbonisation of hard to treat areas like heat and transport.
As well as delivering a further 117 TWh across heat and power, sustainably doubling the deployment of bioenergy would see up to 80 million tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere annually – more than enough to bridge the nuclear gap and meet the shortfall in the carbon budgets.
Both the Science and Technology Commons Select Committee and the Committee on Climate Change have urged the government to prioritise resolving the policy gap obstructing the deployment of new sources of heat and power generation. Without this, the UK will lose valuable markets, expertise and resource in the run up to net zero.
The strategy sets out a comprehensive list of policy actions and industry commitments now needed to achieve the UK’s legally binding commitments and drive forward the industry. Key recommendations include an obligation on gas suppliers to blend in a minimum amount of renewable gas following commitments made in the Spring Statement; urgently renewing support for renewable heat once the Renewable Heat Incentive comes to an end and an auction mechanism akin to those used to establish the offshore wind sector, to kick-start the market for capturing and storing carbon.
“Time and time again the current and potential role that bioenergy plays in the energy system has been overlooked by ministers and government officials leading to it being deprived of the support it deserves,” added REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska.
“Bioenergy is the backbone of the renewables revolution providing all-important dispatchable power and the most advanced solution to meeting the demands of heat and transport. With 2050 targets locked into place, the government must commit to doubling current levels to reach 16% bioenergy by 2032 to avoid future UK energy security concerns.”
The report is the final instalment in the REA’s Bioenergy Strategy, an industry-led review of bioenergy’s potential and the policies needed for it to maximise potential through to 2030 and beyond.