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Information for G02921

The UK's biomass energy development path

Sibel Korhaliller


Biomass energy forms an important part of the UK renewable energy portfolio in helping to achieve national carbon reductions. In 2007, it made up three per cent of the total UK energy supply and this figure is set to rise, with biomass energy due to make up just under a third of the 2020 UK renewable energy target. Biomass energy has several unique advantages over other renewable energy options: its widespread availability; relative independence from environmental fluctuations; employment intensity; and its flexibility in terms of energy carrier and diversity of supply options. Different biomass feedstocks can be harnessed via various different conversion technologies into all the major energy carriers (heat, liquid, gas and electricity) but this paper primarily focuses on electricity and heat generation – two of the most widely used forms of biomass energy in the UK.

Barriers to biomass energy in the UK include a weak supply chain, a lack of public awareness and a long and confusing list of grants. There are many lessons that can be drawn from the UK for application in developing countries; such as the wide variety of employment opportunities offered through biomass energy, the importance of sufficient support for sustainable supply chain development, the need for good government coordination, and finally, the development of a coherent biomass strategy.

Publication information

  • IIED code: G02921
  • Published: Nov 2010 - IIED
  • Area: UK
  • Theme: Energy
  • Language: English

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