Matching fine words on decarbonisation with action
Last week I had a useful meeting with Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We discussed how innovative clean energy solutions facilitate industrial decarbonisation.
He and his BEIS officials recognise how on-site bioenergy solutions can help reduce fossil fuel use on industrial sites. But, he confirmed the UK bioenergy sector is unlikely to receive further taxpayer-funded support following the removal of renewable energy generation incentives in the next couple of years.
So – is the UK government doing enough to help British businesses to reduce their carbon emissions? I remain concerned because investing in on-site, decentralised energy generation capacity is championed in Edinburgh but there is not the same enthusiasm in Westminster. With early termination of renewable incentives, what other drivers can stimulate the transition to lower carbon manufacturing?
Where are the political champions for bioenergy? We still get mixed messages from politicians – fine words are not always matched by actions. We can welcome BEIS’ creation of an annual Green GB Week (from 15th October) to help businesses and consumers reduce carbon emissions. But will Ministers do more to promote on-site bioenergy as a part of a holistic solution to climate change?
I hope BEIS will use Green GB Week to highlight the potential for decentralised bioenergy in developing the low carbon economy. We also need stronger leadership from UK trade associations to challenge manufacturers to enhance resource efficiency and contribute to a more sustainable future. This week, I am taking this message to the Recycling and Waste Management Exhibition (12th/13th Sept) where Clearfleau is exhibiting our innovative water and bio-energy solutions.
These arguments are summarised in my short paper on future development of the bioenergy industry, which you can download here. I stress the need for AD to be more carbon efficient, with a clear focus on converting bioresidues into clean energy. BEIS can do more to endorse the wider generation of on-site energy from process residues as part of plans for the low carbon economy.
British SMEs need more encouragement if they are to invest in low carbon technology. While technology providers press the case for smaller bioenergy solutions on industrial sites, policy makers also need to recognise the possible uses of bioenergy, for example providing low carbon fuels which can be used for transport in rural areas. Biomethane can be used to transport milk and other food products from rural areas to factories and supermarkets (Waitrose is leading the way by converting its HGVs).
The biogas sector must show that it values all the outputs from the digestion process – not just the gas. This includes facilitating re-use of residual nutrients and grey water, plus carbon dioxide – a component of biogas but also an industrial input that was in short supply earlier this summer.
British engineering companies are leading the development of novel bioenergy technologies which cut emissions and embrace the circular economy. We need a continued dialogue with Government on how to support SMEs in implementing these. Hopefully Greg Clark and his fellow Ministers will recognise this.
TO DOWNLOAD RICHARD’S PAPERCLICK HERE