Biomass Sustainability Requirements for RHI

Published: 26th November 2014

The Department of Energy & Climate Change explain what the new criteria for biomass sustainability are, and the requirements for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

As the renewable heat market grows, support for biomass needs to be sustainable. New sustainability criteria for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will make sure biomass meets the Government’s carbon and environmental objectives, ensuring that support delivers value for money. This will affect domestic and non-domestic RHI participants, producers, and traders of biomass fuels.

What are the new criteria?

  • Biomass fuel used by RHI participants must meet a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of heat generated, or 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average. For biomethane plants, a lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of energy injected into the gas grid.
  • Land Criteria: we plan 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:
    • For other types of biomass: we intend that land criteria will correspond to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) for transport biofuels and bioliquids. Energy crops which have been assessed as meeting the requirements of the Energy Crops Scheme or equivalent will be deemed to meet land criteria.

When will the new criteria come into force?

To allow RHI regulatory amendments to be streamlined and to simplify the introduction of the biomass sustainability criteria, we have updated our timetable so that both the greenhouse gas and land criteria will now be introduced from Autumn 2015, with the regulations introducing the criteria coming into force from Spring 2015.

What does this mean for RHI participants?

There are two methods to meet the sustainability criteria and participants can switch between them:

  • Sourcing woodfuel from the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL), and providing Ofgem with a quarterly declaration that the biomass fuel they have used was registered on the BSL and marked as sustainable. We opened the RHI Biomass Suppliers List to consumer searches in September. This means that consumers are now able to use the online search tool to find authorised fuels near them.
  • Self-reporting to Ofgem on the sustainability of their fuel. This will involve making a quarterly declaration to Ofgem on whether or not fuel used in that quarter meets the GHG and land sustainability criteria, and providing an annual independent sustainability audit report on biomass used in that reporting year.

All fuel used from the date the criteria come into force must be sourced from a supplier registered on the BSL at the time. Participants are required to make an annual declaration to Ofgem that the biomass fuel used meets this requirement.

For more information read the full handout from the Department of Energy & Climate Change here.