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Biomass imports to serve 81% of UK bioenergy market by 2020

The UK's consumption of imported wood is expected to increase to 68%
The UK's consumption of imported wood is expected to increase to 68%

Biomass imports to the UK are expected to soar, as the nation's supply of domestic biomass is not enough to fulfil the demand of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

Currently 74% of the bioenergy industry is supplied with domestic feedstocks, but this is expected to shift to 81% imported biomass as the UK strives to meet the RED. Under the RED, 15% of energy is to come from renewable sources by 2020.

According to a new report by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), entitled 'Bioenergy: A Burning Issue', this is due to the number of proposed biomass-fired power plants across the UK. The most significant increase will come from wood imports, which are predicted to rise to 68%, up from 13%.

If all the power plants that have been proposed were to come online, around 48.3 million tonnes of biomass would be needed to fuel them, 9.3 times more than the amount of biomass consumed to date.

The report also highlights that the nation's domestic biomass supply would be enough to serve just 19% of the market should all the proposed plants be operational by 2020. This means imported biomass will dominate the market, reaching an estimated 39.1 million tonnes a year. This is almost 30 times the volume of imported biomass in 2010.

The UK's consumption of imported wood is expected to increase to 68%