From April 2015, under new changes announced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), biomass generators will be required to prove the sustainability of the wood-fuel burned in facilities of over 1MW capacity.

Biomass generators of 1MW and above will need to meet a 200kg CO2 per MWh annual target, a reduction of 72% compared to EU fossil fuel electricity averages. From 2025 this figure will drop to 180kg CO2 per MWh. Around 98% of biomass power generators in the UK are thought to meet this criteria. For generators smaller that 1MW, producers will be required to report their fuel standards but not comply.

DECC has also introduced a cap of 400MW on the total new-build dedicated to biomass capacity, excluding biomass with CHP and coal to biomass conversions.

According to DECC the new measures are aimed at promoting sustainable harvest rates, biodiversity protection and protecting land use rights for indigenous populations. Financial support could be withheld for organisations that do not comply.

The measures were accompanied by an announcement that there would be no further unilateral changes to sustainability criteria before April 2027.

Commenting on the new criteria, energy minister Greg Barker said: “The new criteria will provide the necessary investor certainty and, crucially, ensure that the biomass is delivered in a transparent and sustainable way.”