The government has offered reassurance to the wood recycling industry by confirming that it is considering transitional support for waste wood biomass plants. These facilities currently operate under the Renewables Obligation and/or Renewable Heat Incentive subsidies, which are due to end at a date between the mid 2020s and 2038.
These subsidies are intended to encourage renewable energy generation, including biomass sources such as waste wood. The chair of the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) Richard Coulson recently wrote to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to ask for details about future support once the subsidies have been withdrawn.
The energy minister Graham Stuart said in response: “The Government recognises the important role of sustainable biomass, including waste wood biomass, in achieving the UK’s net zero targets, and in balancing the energy grid/ensuring security of supply.”
With regards to the ending of the RO and RHI subsidies, the Minister added: “The Government recognises that waste wood biomass plants currently operate under the Renewables Obligation and/or Renewable Heat Incentive Subsidies.”
“We are currently considering whether transitional support may be appropriate for facilitating the transition from biomass electricity generation to power BECCS*. The Government is planning to consult shortly on eligibility for any such potential transitional support.”
Commenting on Mr Stuart’s letter, Mr Coulson said: “We are delighted to receive this response from Energy Minister Graham Stuart and to hear that the government recognises the benefits of waste wood biomass and is considering vital transitional support for our sector.”
The WRA has recently welcomed the announcement by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) that the packaging recycling target for waste wood has been increased from 35% to 42%. The WRA has previously stated that they considered the targets to be too low, and have been calling for an increase for some time.
However, the Executive Director of the WRA, Julie Turner, said that they remain disappointed by the scale of the increase, which they feel is too modest, and have called for a minimum target of 45%. The majority of the other package recycling targets have been held at the same level for 2023, with the exception of wood and general recycling.
The WRA has previously stated that higher wood packaging targets will drive further investment in the wood recycling industry and reduce the amount of waste wood.
Wood recyclers make a range of products from waste wood. Besides packaging, it is used to make animal bedding, panel board, and biomass fuel. In many cases, taking waste wood to a designated recycling centre is cheaper than taking it to landfill, although a gate fee will usually be charged.
Waste wood recycling centres cannot accept hazardous wood, such as that treated with solvents or preservatives, or wood that may have come in contact with chemicals.
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