Conclusions

2.76 The Forestry Commission has calculated that about 3.1 million odt/y of wood-derived fuel could currently be made available in the UK61. This includes forestry materials, sawmill co-product, municipal arisings and energy crops (but not straw). This is equivalent to 440MW of electricity (at a conversion rate of 20% in an electrical output only plant), which is about half of the UK's commitment to electricity production from biomass, even without additional planting of energy crops. The same amount of fuel could also produce some 1400MW of heat (assuming 85% total efficiency). This assumes full and easy access to all of the UK's current biomass resource without competition for these materials from other industries. If competition for this wood from other industries is taken into account, an estimated 1.3 million odt/y could be made be available; this is a sufficient resource to initiate a sizeable biomass for energy sector, and it is available now.

2.77 The biomass for energy chain is currently disjointed and there is insufficient communication between the stakeholders involved. We recommend that a new government/industry forum should be established, consisting of representatives from all parts of the biomass for energy supply chain, including farmers, transporters, generators, construction companies, local councils and central government policy makers. The forum would allow its members to identify problems, share solutions and experiences and make recommendations on improving the effectiveness of biomass energy policy. Currently the process of establishing schemes is fragmented and relies to a great extent on local knowledge and enthusiasm and the drive of a few local entrepreneurs. Setting up a discussion forum would allow knowledge and experience to be shared to the benefit of all, and produce policy recommendations to enable biomass energy to be promoted more effectively.

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