In February 2014 the UK Government confirmed its intention to bring in biomass fuel sustainability criteria for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The new criteria will affect both domestic and commercial RHI participants, new and old, domestic and commercial alike. These latest regulations are due to come in force in spring 2015.

Biomass Fuel Sustainability Will Have Two Criteria:

1. GHG Emissions: Biomass fuel used by RHI participants must meet a life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per MJ of heat, or 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average. (Source: Department of Energy & Climate Change)

2. Land Criteria: For wood fuel, this is based on the already existing UK Government Timber Procurement Policy (UK-TPP). These principles were developed for central Government and public bodies for use when purchasing timber and wood products. They include wood fuel.

All wood fuel will have to be certified as having met both these standards. Certification is achieved through either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and registered with the Biomass Suppliers List. (BSL)

When procuring wood fuel, current and potential participants of the RHI scheme, will have to ensure their supplier is registered on the Biomass Suppliers List or provide an annual independent sustainability report on the fuel they use (at their own cost). Failure to source wood fuel for a registered supplier could mean the withdrawal of RHI payments.

Meeting the Criteria

Commercial RHI

Option A: Participants source woodfuel from the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL). Ofgem will then require a quarterly declaration (along with your quarterly meter reading) that the woodfuel used within that period was sourced using the Biomass Suppliers List. The regulations have also stated that you should keep records of your BSL registered supplier and delivery for a period of 5 years.

Option B: If your supplier is not registered with the Biomass Suppliers List but you are confident of their sustainability, you can make quarterly declarations (along with your quarterly meter readings) that the fuel you have used for that period meets the GHG and sustainability criteria. To evidence this declaration you will need to submit an annual sustainability audit to Ofgem at your own cost.

Domestic RHI

There is only one option for domestic RHI biomass boiler projects. All wood fuel sourced for use in biomass boilers will need to be registered on the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) at the time of consumption. Annual declarations are required by Ofgem to confirm this to be true. The regulations have also stated that you should keep records of your BSL registered supplier and delivery for a period of 5 years.

Self-Suppliers (Domestic and Commercial RHI)

When using your own woodfuel you must register this with the Biomass Supplier List (BSL) in order to make quarterly declarations as above.  Participants with a heat capacity of 1MW or over are unable to register as a self-supplier.

As a self-supplier you do not need to evidence compliance with the sustainability criteria but you will need to prove evidence such as a forest management plan or Felling Licence

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