Phased delivery

4.72 A gradual approach to the introduction of biomass energy will be needed. The four stages recommended below will provide a framework within which this gradual approach should include the introduction of the technology to people who might have a view on its acceptability, the appraisal (and, from time to time, the re-appraisal) of the availability of biomass fuel from the sources we have identified, and rigorous monitoring of the environmental impacts of energy crops and energy generating plants.

First stage ( 2004-2012)

4.73 Bauen94 defined this period in terms of a relatively small proportion of set-aside land being used for energy crops. Figure 4-IV indicates that this might last until 2012, but it could last considerably longer. During this period:

• government grants for the production of biomass, the development of demonstration conversion facilities and assisting the introduction of district heating schemes should be rationalised;

• government should introduce the concept of energy crops to the public, gauge reactions and ensure that public values are incorporated into future plans;

• guidance should be provided to planning authorities on sensitive design of infrastructure, and to farmers on minimising landscape impacts and maximising biodiversity gains;

• wood from forests, sawmills and municipal tree management will increasingly be used as fuel, particularly in co-firing installations, to prove the system.

Second stage (2012-2018)

4.74 During the second stage the area required for energy crops increases up to an area equivalent to the amount of set-aside land.

• Co-firing is likely to remain a major user of biomass, with increasing numbers of small CHP plants installed in hospitals, educational establishments and commercial/industrial premises.

• Local authorities will start to assess biomass resources in their areas and a strategic assessment of the environmental impacts of growing energy crops will be necessary.

• This stage, which will last between 5 and 10 years, is also likely to see the start of a significant programme of construction of larger (30 MW) biomass CHP plants near urban conurbations.

Third stage (2018-2025)

4.75 The area required for energy crops increases significantly beyond the amount of land that is currently set-aside. This stage might last until about 2025 with the following developments:

• a rolling programme of energy conversion facilities and heat distribution systems will provide a gradually increasing market for wood;

• farmers will gain confidence and energy crops will become an accepted main crop;

Fourth stage (2025-2050)

4.76 By this stage the programme will have been established. The farming community will be comfortable with energy crops, district-heating schemes will be the norm in new build residential and commercial developments and local communities will have a sense of ownership of their local generation plant. The area of land under energy crops increases, up to 2050, to be a significant proportion of total available agricultural land. By this time it will be important to start examining other transport options, with increasing use of rail to deliver wood to processing and distribution centres.

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