Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New biomass sustainability requirements for the Renewable Heat Incentive

Ofgem has revealed more detail on how it intends to roll out and implement sustainability requirements for biomass fuels.

This is particularly important as it not only affects the owners and operators of RHI accredited biomass boilers but also producers and traders of biomass fuels.

The guidance applies to both the non-domestic (commercial) and domestic RHI and participants will need to comply with requirements from date they come into force (although the precise dates are not stated).

All participants are strongly encouraged to start sourcing from a supplier on the forthcoming Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) supplier in advance of the criteria coming into force later this year.

The new requirements also take into account participants who self-supply, for example an estate that processes wood chip from its own woodland.  Details on this can be found below.

From Autumn 2014 (no earlier than 1st October 2014)

Biomass fuel used by RHI participants must meet a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of heat.

Don't panic!  All this means is that the fuel (chip, logs, pellets) must achieve a 60% GHG saving against the EU fossil fuel average.  And it is the supplier of the fuel that has to demonstrate the GHG saving and not the end user (although the end user will have new reporting responsibilities if they are participating in the RHI).

From Spring 2015 (subject to the Parliamentary process)

Ofgem plans for biomass fuel to meet land criteria, which will differ for different types of biomass:
For woodfuel the criteria are outlined in the UK Timber Standard for Heat and Electricity.
How do non-domestic RHI participants comply?

This is rather simple actually.  A new Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) is currently being set up.  This is being managed by the good people at Woodsure who have been appointed by Ofgem to manage the BSL.  The alternative option is to self-report directly to Ofgem.

Participants can switch between these methods.  Of the two the BSL route sounds more straightforward to us.
  • Sourcing woodfuel from the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL)
    • Participants may still need to also provide Ofgem with a quarterly declaration that the biomass fuel they have used was sourced from a supplier registered on the BSL and marked as sustainable.
  • Self-reporting to Ofgem on the sustainability of their fuel
    • This will involve making a quarterly declaration to Ofgem of the lifecycle GHG emissions associated with each consignment of fuel used in that quarter, and provide an annual independent audit of the lifecycle GHG emissions associated with biomass used in that reporting year.
For the domestic RHI all fuel used from the date the criteria come into force must be sourced from a supplier registered on the BSL at the time the fuel was purchased. Participants are required to make an annual declaration to Ofgem that the biomass fuel used meets this requirement.

Self-suppliers (domestic and non-domestic) < 1 MW

Participants self-supplying woodfuel from the same estate as the installation will be able to register on the BSL as a self-supplier without undertaking an assessment against the sustainability criteria if the boiler is less than 1MW capacity

Ofgem recommendeds:
  • Self-suppliers provide some evidence of their ability to self-supply, such as a Forestry Commission approved management plan
  • Self-suppliers should register on the BSL before the sustainability criteria come into force in Autumn 2014.
Self-supplying participants who cannot meet all of their needs from their own woodland will be able to top up with fuel purchased from a BSL supplier.

1 comment:

  1. Antony Martin9 May 2014 at 11:23

    The emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of heat is, I believe a maximum, so it is necessary to achieve anything up to that figure but no more.