Chaotic UK biomass demand in danger of fuelling landgrab in developing countries

Energy & Environmental Management

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According to a new report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), increasing demand for woodfuel worldwide, including in the UK, is helping to increase the number of foreign-owned plantations in developing countries, at the cost of food security.

At the same time, the amount of waste wood being exported from the UK to the continent for fuel is expanding “very rapidly” and could account for up to 500,000 tonnes of material by the end of the year, says Toby Beadle, technical advisor for the Wood Recyclers’ Association.

You can check out the full story at Energy & Environmental Management but interesting information includes:

  • Rising UK demand alone, fuelled by the Renewable Heat Incentive and other initiatives, could lead to an almost doubling of world trade in wood chips and pellets, according to John Clegg Consulting. Wood already accounts for 67% of global renewable energy supplies.
  • Waste wood can only meet part of the expected rise in UK demand, which is partly due to the UK’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan, which stipulates that under the European Renewable Energy Directive the UK must reach a target for 15% of energy consumption in 2020 to be from renewable sources.
  • Europe is not alone in creating a higher global demand for woodfuel: in South Korea, the recently approved Renewable Portfolio Standard requires utilities to source 10% of their electricity supplies from new and renewable sources, including biomass, by 2022, and in the United States a quarter of all national energy is to be supplied from renewable sources, including biomass, by 2025.