Unfair biomass subsidies threaten wood supply

Burning wood

Use, reuse, recycle and only then burn wood

Current subsidies paid to the biomass industry will cause a potential shortfall, in Europe alone, of up to 400 million m3 of timber by the year 2020, according to a United Nations report.

The subsidies that incentivise the use of wood in energy generation are creating a demand conflict between the manufacturing industry and the energy sector, which threatens future supplies and is pushing up the price of timber.

Several studies indicate a shortfall between the available amount of woody biomass in Europe, and the quantity that is needed to fulfil renewable energy targets set by the EU.

For the year 2020, a shortage of 230 million m³ wood (McKinsey, 2007) to 400 million m³ wood (FAO/UNECE/University of Hamburg) is estimated. This deficit accounts for 1/3 of the total demand of wood in 2020.

In the UK, the Wood Panel Industries Federation is lobbying hard with Government through its Make Wood Work campaign to reverse the consequences of the Renewables Obligation Order, which is a result of European Union Climate Change Directives.

The Renewables Obligation Order places an obligation on licensed electricity suppliers in the UK to generate an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources – and the biomass industry has turned to wood to achieve targets.

If the subsidies are allowed to continue they will damage the environment, economy and threatening millions of UK and European jobs.

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