Our response to The Guardian biomass heat article

Wood Heat Association
Press Release
16th January 2015

Following the publication of a report  in The Guardian on Wednesday which claims that Renewable Heat Incentive support for biomass boilers is an inefficient use of public funds, the Wood Heat Association would like to respond.
There are numerous benefits and opportunities demonstrated by biomass heat. Biomass boilers are a proven and reliable technology that contributes greatly to the provision of renewable heat across the UK and Europe. As one of the most cost efficient ways to cut carbon, biomass heat plays an essential role in aiding the UK to reach its short and long term renewable and decarbonisation targets.

Biomass heat and biomass boilers have proven to be a great success and over 1 Gigawatt of biomass heat capacity has been installed under the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The RHI is a public subsidy that only pays for renewable heat produced. Therefore any potential inefficiency in the installation of biomass boilers will have no impact on the use of public finance as payments made under the RHI are made for the amount of renewable heat generated and recorded at the point of use.
All of the heat rewarded in this way counts towards the Renewable Energy Directive 2020 targets. This is not dependent on meeting a given efficiency standard, as falsely stated in the article. It also fails to point out that support levels for commercial biomass heat are excellent value for money – subsidies are currently far lower on RED-eligible renewable generation than for many other technologies for heat or power.

Biomass boilers, have a higher efficiency rating during lab testing and certification. This can change after the boiler is installed on site, as its efficiency is dependent on how it is used after installation. There is nothing surprising about slightly different efficiency rates of lab testing and in situ, as is true for all heating technologies.

A growing biomass heat sector also predominantly supports the use of UK fuel sources, encouraging the utilisation of undermanaged woodlands and turning wood waste into renewable heat and thereby significantly contributing to the creation of jobs and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel imports.

An overwhelming 91 per cent of RHI biomass applicants are satisfied with their biomass boiler technology according to DECC own survey, and the Wood Heat Association is continually working with its members to further improve the biomass heating sector.


For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Rebecca Cooke
Press Officer, REA
+44 (0)20 7981 0856