UK aims to double bioeconomy to £440 billion by 2030
The UK aims to double the ‘size of the impact’ of the bioeconomy by 2030, according to the Government’s newly published Bioeconomy strategy: 2018 to 2030.
Defining the bioeconomy as “the economic potential of harnessing the power of bioscience”, the strategy outlines the approach government, industry and the research community will take. The strategy aims to create the right supportive environment to increase the size of the impact of the bioeconomy from its 2014 level of £220 billion (€247 billion) to £440 billion (€494 billion).
“A strong and vibrant bioeconomy harnesses the power of bioscience and biotechnology, transforming the way we address challenges in food, chemicals, materials, energy and fuel production, health and the environment,” says Richard Harrington, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Business and Industry, in his foreword to the strategy.
“The potential benefits are significant, as we develop low carbon bio-based products and processes that will improve our daily lives.”
The UK’s bioenergy industry have expressed mixed reactions to the strategy.
“The government’s new bioeconomy strategy recognises the importance of the sector in delivering jobs and clean growth,” Drax Power CEO Andy Koss told Bioenergy Insight.
As an example of the use of bioresources he highlighted the conversion of Drax’s Yorkshire power station to using biomass instead of coal. Becoming, according to the company, the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe.
“Transforming the business in this way has meant we’ve been able to protect jobs and preserve the life of the power station. Our operations across the Group now support more than 17,500 jobs across the UK and generate £1.6bn for the economy.”
Mark Sommerfield, Policy manager at the Renewable Energy Association, says that the strategy makes clear that utilising bioresources efficiently and sustainably is crucial to both decarbonisation and a vibrant economy.
“Central to this is utilising the UK’s supply of bioenergy feedstocks to deliver a complete range of renewable energy products that will decarbonise the UK’s heat, power and transport requirements.
“Government must now act on these ambitions. Today’s strategy highlights the need for effective policies to make better use of our food waste, our residual waste streams and other sources of sustainable biomass to create a complete range of renewable energy products.”
Although encouraged by the Bioeconomy strategy: 2018 to 2030’s recognition of the value of the bioeconomy, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA), said the lack of ‘concrete’ action in the form of policies or funding from government was “disappointing”.
“There’s also much more that government can do for the bioeconomy by supporting on-farm AD (which recycles manure and slurries), restoring financial incentives for generating renewable energy through AD, and establishing a Centre for Anaerobic Biotechnology and Bioresources Research to produce a step-change in AD’s ability to deliver vital bioresources,” Morton says in a statement.
“Today’s Bioeconomy Strategy sets out all of the correct principles for creating a thriving UK bioeconomy with AD playing a central role – what we need now is a clear action plan from government to deliver this.”