Thank you to those who have contacted me recently about subsidies for electricity generated from biomass and asked me to add my name to EDM 1771. Unfortunately my position as an opposition whip prevents me from signing EDMs, but I thought it would be useful to set out my views on this.
It is important that all energy forms that we use in our move towards a low-carbon economy are sustainable. We must consider where biomass feedstock comes from, as well as how land is used for biomass production and the extent to which it could displace other forms of production.
The Committee on Climate Change has recently published a review of the role of bioenergy in decarbonising the UK economy through to 2050. It found that biomass can play an important role in meeting the UK’s long-term emissions targets and moving towards net-zero emissions, but only with stricter governance to ensure sustainable supplies. It recommended that biomass be used in the most effective way, prioritising uses that enable long-term carbon storage. I believe it is important to consider properly the findings of this review.
I also think it is important to consider any perverse impacts of retrospectively removing subsidies for biomass. For example, several plants that converted from coal to biomass warned that an amendment to the Renewables Obligation scheme earlier this year could make it more beneficial to produce electricity from coal than biomass.
Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly with your call for greater support for renewable energy such as wind and solar power. I am committed to ensuring 60% of the UK’s electricity and heating comes from low-carbon or renewable sources within twelve years. I believe this could be achieved through a National Transformation Fund that would help place our economy on a low-carbon sustainable footing, and which would double our onshore wind power, almost triple our solar power capacity and deliver a seven-fold increase in offshore wind.