2011

31064 & 31039 – Buildings: Timber – 10 January 2011

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate he has made of the average timber content of new buildings in each of the last five years; [31064]

(2) whether his Department has made an assessment of the likely effects on the environment of the implementation of a statutory minimum level of use of timber in new building construction; and if he will make a statement. [31039]

Andrew Stunell: The Department has made no estimate of the timber content of new buildings nor has it made any assessment of the effects of implementing a statutory minimum.

Building regulations set requirements on the performance of completed buildings and do not prescribe how this performance should be achieved or what materials should be used. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is exploring the promotion of the use of timber in construction and we will work closely with DEFRA and external partners on this.

34761, 34762, 34766 & 34767 – Renewable Energy: Wood – 20 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the contribution of the wood panel industry to the production of renewable heat in each of the last five years. [34761]

Gregory Barker: In 2009, the wood panel industry is estimated to have produced 1,639 GWh of renewable heat, from 395,469 tonnes of wood. Data are not available for years preceding this. Industry as a whole produced approximately 4,501 GWh of renewable heat in 2009.

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether his Department has made an assessment of the life-cycle carbon balance of (a) processing wood and (b) electricity generation from wood; and if he will make a statement. [34762]

Charles Hendry: The Department has not made an assessment of the life cycle carbon balance of processing wood. However, I can confirm that the process itself is highly energy intensive; the wood panel industry is one of the most energy intensive industries in the UK

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/consult_carbon_price_support.htm

According to the results of the 4(th) target period assessment of the climate change agreements, the sector reported that 2,550,761,208 kWh of energy with 458,355 tonnes of CO2 was used to produce 3,257,582m3 of wood panel. Their performance during this period was therefore 783 kWhp and 0.14 tonnes CO2 per m3 of wood panel produced.

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/What%20we%20do/Global%20climate%20change%20and%20energy/Tackling %20Climate%20Change/ccas/175-cca-4th-target.pdf

Estimates of the life-cycle carbon balance of electricity generation from wood are dependent on a number of factors; the size and efficiency of the energy generating plant, the forestry planting, rotation and harvesting cycle, and the method of collecting, transporting and processing the wood. Typical life cycle carbon balances have been estimated by the Environment Agency.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/static/documents/Biomass__carbon_sink_or_carbon_sinner_summary_report.pdf

Their analysis shows that life-cycle emissions for electricity generated by clean waste wood or short rotation coppice chips can vary from 50-300 kg CO2/MWh.

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what (a) mechanism and (b) criteria his Department plans to apply to assess the sustainability of large-scale wood biomass energy plants of 50 megawatts and over; and if he will take into account the potential effects of such plants on (i) UK wood processing industries and (ii) UK wood markets. [34766]

Charles Hendry: We are introducing sustainability criteria for the use of solid biomass, including wood fuels, to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) from April this year. These criteria include a minimum greenhouse gas emissions saving of 60% compared to fossil fuel and general restrictions on the use of materials from land important on carbon or biodiversity grounds. Following a transition phase, where solid biomass plants over 50 kilowatts will be required to report on their performance against the criteria, from April 2013, solid biomass electricity plants of 1 megawatt and above will be required to meet these criteria in order to receive support under the RO. The sustainability criteria will not apply to solid biomass that is waste or wholly derived from waste.

The same set of sustainability criteria will be applied to the use of UK and imported solid biomass, and to both new and existing plants.

These changes build on the existing requirement under the RO for biomass plants over 50 kilowatts to report to the best of the operator’s knowledge and belief on a range of matters relating to the biomass used. These include the type and form of the biomass, its country of origin and whether the biomass is an energy crop or waste. This will provide valuable information on the biomass being used for large-scale electricity generation in the UK and the potential effects on the UK wood industries.

Our analysis of future UK bio-electricity supply takes into account the demand of the wood processing and other user industries for biomass feedstocks.

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether (a) the effect on existing wood industries and (b) the sustainability of wood as a feedstock is taken into account in deciding whether to grant planning permission for large-scale biomass energy projects of 50 megawatts and over. [34767]

Charles Hendry: In respect of the effect on existing wood industries, commercial interests are not a relevant planning matter. In respect of the sustainability of wood as a feedstock, Government policy is that mechanisms beyond the planning system in the form of the renewables obligation are better placed to ensure the sustainability of fuel used in large-scale biomass electricity generating stations.

34768 – Renewable Energy – 20 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for what reasons the Renewables Obligation does not require minimum energy efficiency standards in respect of eligibility for biomass energy support; and if he will make a statement. [34768]

Charles Hendry: The renewables obligation promotes the efficient use of biomass for electricity in two ways. Firstly, renewables obligation certificates are only rewarded for actual electricity generated, the less efficient the generation the less ROCs they will receive.

Secondly, the UK Government are introducing sustainability criteria for the use of solid and gaseous biomass (other than waste or wholly derived from waste) to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) from April this year. These sustainability criteria include a minimum greenhouse gas emissions saving of 60% compared to fossil fuel assessed across a lifecycle that includes consideration of the energy conversion efficiency of the generating plant.

Following a transition phase, where solid and gaseous biomass plants over 50 kilowatts will be required to report on their performance against the criteria, from April 2013 biomass electricity plants of 1 megawatt and over will be required to meet these criteria in order to receive support under the RO.

34765 – Wood: Landfill – 21 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she has plans to bring forward proposals to introduce a ban on wood going to landfill. [34765]

Richard Benyon: The Government are not minded to introduce further landfill restrictions in England at present, but will consider how best to make further reductions in the amount of waste to going to landfill as part of the review of waste policies, due to conclude in spring 2011.

34769 – Combined Heat and Power – 24 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the conversion efficiency of combined heat and power installations; and if he will make a statement. [34769]

Gregory Barker: The conversion efficiency of combined heat and power installations is undertaken within the UK’s CHP quality assurance programme (CHPQA), the means by which the Government assess the environmental performance of CHP plants to ensure they deliver primary energy savings of at least 10%.

The conversion factors for the most recent gas-fired CHP plants certified under CHPQA demonstrate electrical efficiencies in the order of 33-39% and heat efficiencies in the order of 40-45%, depending on the size and type of the plant.

34769 – Biofuels: Carbon Emissions – 24 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons figures for direct carbon emissions from the combustion of fuel sources were removed from the Biomass Energy Centre website. [34763]

Mr Paice: The managers of the Biomass Energy Centre website removed the information because it became clear to them that there was some misrepresentation of this information. This was probably due to a misunderstanding of the fundamental difference between the direct carbon emissions associated with burning biomass (releasing carbon from the current carbon cycle) and fossil fuels (releasing carbon sequestered in prehistoric times). The estimates of lifecycle carbon emissions remain on the website.

34769 – Biofuels – 26 January 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the development of crops for biomass energy generation; and whether her Department is taking steps to ensure that the cultivation of energy crops meets demand for biomass fuels. [34764]

Mr Paice: Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have regular discussions with officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change regarding the development of crops for biomass energy generation. These discussions cover a wide range of issues, including incentivising renewable energy, sustainability, energy security, business opportunities in the UK farming and forestry sectors, and delivery of the UK’s targets for climate change and renewable energy.

34769 – Biomass – 8 March 2011

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 945W, on renewable energy: wood, what indicators he plans to use to ascertain the sustainability of woody biomass. [42843]

Gregory Barker: Our earlier answer of 20 January 2011 set out in brief the sustainability criteria we are introducing for the use of solid biomass, including woody biomass, to generate electricity under the renewables obligation (RO) from April this year.
These criteria are a minimum greenhouse gas emissions saving of 60% compared to fossil fuel assessed across a lifecycle that considers the emissions associated with cultivation, processing and transport of the biomass, together with general restrictions on the use of materials from land important on carbon or biodiversity grounds. Such land includes primary forest, peatland and wetland.
We are also continuing with the existing requirement for operators to report on a range of matters relating to the biomass used to the best of their knowledge and belief. These matters include the mass or volume of the biomass used, its type and form, the country of origin or purchase, and whether the biomass is an energy crop, by-product of a process or meets an environmental accreditation scheme. The same set of sustainability criteria will be applied to the use of UK and imported solid biomass, and to both new and existing plants. The sustainability criteria will not apply to solid biomass that is waste or wholly derived from waste.
As set out in our earlier answer, we intend, following a transition phase where solid biomass plants over 50 kilowatts will be required to report on their performance against these criteria, that from April 2013 solid biomass electricity plants of one megawatt and above will be required to meet these criteria in order to receive support under the RO.

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 945W, on renewable energy: wood, how the information yielded from sustainability criteria reports will be used to assess sustainability; and what assessment he has made of the likely contribution of such implementation to understanding biomass use; [42844]
(2) pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 945W, on renewable energy: wood, what timetable he has set for the assessment of the sustainability criteria for (a) wood and (b) other solid biomass; and if he will make a statement. [42845]

Gregory Barker: We are introducing mandatory reporting on performance against the sustainability criteria under the renewables obligation (RO) from April this year for operators using wood and other solid biomass, above 50 kilowatts capacity. The first reports would be due to be supplied to Ofgem by 31 May 2012, to cover the biomass used by a plant operator between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012. These reports would include performance against the land criteria, an assessment of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions saving relative to fossil fuel and information on the biomass used including mass or volume, country of origin, type arid form.
These reports will enable Government, on an annual basis, to assess performance against the sustainability criteria for the use of wood and other solid biomass in electricity generation under the RO. We intend to formally link meeting the criteria with eligibility to receive RO support for operators of 1 megawatt capacity and above from April 2013.
These reports will also provide Government with valuable information on the availability and source of biomass being used for large-scale electricity generation in the UK, the scope for growth of sustainable bio-electricity in the UK and the potential effects on our wood industries. In addition, we believe that the introduction of sustainability criteria that are linked to eligibility for financial support will provide a powerful driver for better understanding across the bioenergy supply-chain of the key levers, such as reducing the use of road transport, that can deliver improved emissions savings.
Therefore, in the Government response to the consultation on the RO Order 2011, we announced DECC, Ofgem and the Environment Agency will jointly develop an easy to use lifecycle tool to assess the GHG emissions associated with bioenergy generation from the cultivation of the feedstock to processing and transport. We intend the tool will be made available online later this year.

34769 – Biofuels – 9 May 2011

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will review the exemption from a requirement to hold an Environment Agency permit for biodiesel producers who manufacture less than 5,000 litres per year. [54028]

Mr Paice: A new exemption from the need for an environmental permit for the physical treatment of waste edible oil and fat to produce biodiesel came into force on 6 April 2010.

Following further consultation, it is proposed to extend the scope of the new exemption to also allow for the small-scale chemical treatment of up to 250 litres in addition to the 5,000 litre limit for physical treatment. This will be introduced at the next suitable opportunity to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2010.

34769 – Biofuels – 7 June 2011

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) with reference to his Department’s publication, “UK and Global Bioenergy Resource-Final Report”, what conversion factor from oven-dry tonnes was used for estimating the price of UK wood feedstocks per gigajoule; [57478]
(2) with reference to his Department’s publication, “UK and Global Bioenergy Resource-Final Report”, what estimate his Department made of the price per oven-dry tonne of UK wood feedstocks for the large-scale electricity sector; [57479]
(3) with reference to page 7 of his Department’s publication “UK and Global Bioenergy Resource-Final Report” what feedstock is referred to as being likely to reach £6 per gigajoule in the short to medium term. [57480]

Gregory Barker: The publication ‘UK and Global Bioenergy Resource’ was an independent report by AEA Technology plc, commissioned by DECC, to assess the potential supply of biomass in the UK from 2010-30. In order to do this, AEA used different price points—£4/GJ, £6/GJ and £10/GJ—and different assumptions about how far non-financial constraints to the development of the market are overcome. Figure 3.2 in the report shows the potential contribution that various feedstocks could make to biomass supply in the UK up to 2030, on the basis of different combinations of the assumptions. The £6/GJ price point does not refer to a specific feedstock but is one of the sensitivities set out in the report.
In estimating the price of UK wood feedstocks per GJ, the consultants used a conversion factor of 19 GJ/tonne for solid oven-dried wood, as listed on page xii of the report.
DECC will use the AEA report and other evidence to inform assumptions about the price of feedstocks for the large-scale electricity sector. We will publish these assumptions alongside the renewables obligation-banding review in the summer.

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate his Department has made of the average price of UK-sourced wood feedstocks for biomass energy generation. [57567]

Gregory Barker: DECC uses a range of assumptions for prices of biomass feedstocks given the range of current prices and uncertainty over future trends. Prices assumed in the heat sector were published alongside the details of the renewable heat incentive scheme in March 2011 at: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/uk_supply/energymix/renewable/policy/incentive/incentive.aspx
Assumptions for the large-scale electricity sector will be published alongside the renewables obligation banding review in the summer.

34769 – Forests – 8 June 2011

Neil Parish: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements she has put in place to ensure the protection and continuation of existing permissive access rights under any prospective sale of Forestry Commission land. [58033]

Mr Paice: All new sales of the public forest estate have been suspended until the Government have considered the recommendations from the Independent Panel on Forestry.

34769 – Biofuels: Timber – 7 November 2011

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the removal of its subsidy of biomass for electricity. [78553]

Gregory Barker: The Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Charles Hendry), who has responsibility for enegy, recently met Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, and stakeholders from the wood processing and bioenergy industries to discuss this and other issues.

Guy Opperman: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether he is considering reducing the subsidy for biomass for wood sourced in the UK. [78554]

Gregory Barker: On 20 October 2011, we published our proposals for the levels of support available for renewable electricity generation, including sustainable biomass electricity, under the renewables obligation (RO) for the period 2013 to 2017. Our proposals aim to support the most cost-effective biomass generation such as conversion from coal which we expect to be fuelled from imports. They represent a cautious approach to the growth of new dedicated biomass plant and take account of the availability of sustainable feedstocks and the demand in non-energy sectors.
This is a consultation. We are open to evidence from all parties on the role of biomass and the level of subsidies and are already in dialogue with the wood panel industry and others on these issues.

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