UK uses biomass to meet EU, Kyoto targets

By Jerry W. Kram
Earlier this year, the British government published its plan for increasing the use of biomass for energy production to reduce the country's emission of greenhouse gases.
The United Kingdom is seeking to reduce its carbon footprint to meet its obligations under both the European Union (EU) and the Kyoto Protocol. The EU has set a goal of reducing energy consumption in its member states by 20 percent. It also intends to have biofuels make up 10 percent of all transportation fuels by 2020. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the country has agreed to reduce its 1990 carbon emissions by 12.5 percent by 2012, and it is on track to meet that goal.

To help the UK meet these obligations, its Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is implementing a policy to increase the amount of biomass available for energy production. Steps to implement this policy include recovering an additional 1 million metric tons of wood from currently unmanaged woodlands, expanding the cultivation of energy crops to 1 million hectares (about 17 percent of the UK's arable land), and increasing the use of organic waste such as manure and municipal solid waste for energy production.

Imports will continue to be an important part of the strategy, especially for transport fuels and biomass cofired with coal for electricity production. Currently, the UK imports the equivalent of 54 terawatt-hours of biomass for energy production. This is more than half of the country's potential biomass production under the biomass strategy. Imports of biomass and biofuels are expected to increase.

Another part of the strategy focuses on innovation. A new joint venture between the government and energy industry, the Energy Technologies Institute, will have a budget of up to £1 billion ($2 billion) over the next 10 years for the research and development of low-carbon energy technology and demand management. An Environmental Transformation Fund is also being established to invest in the demonstration and deployment of low-carbon energy projects.