ARKANSAS, Oct 5 (Future Headlines)- Renewable energy sources have been a driving force in the transition towards a greener and more sustainable future, and the United Kingdom is no exception. According to the annual state of the industry report, “Review23,” released by the UK Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), renewables accounted for a significant 41.7% of the UK’s power generation in the past year, up from 39.6% in 2021. In this renewable energy ecosystem, biomass emerged as the second-largest source of renewable electricity, following closely behind offshore and onshore wind.
Biomass energy in the UK encompasses various sources, including energy crops, straw, and wood pellets, serving as a crucial contributor to the country’s renewable energy mix. In 2022, biomass was responsible for providing 6.9% of the UK’s electricity needs, a slight decrease from the 8.78% recorded in 2021. While the contribution may appear relatively small when compared to other renewables, it plays a vital role in diversifying the UK’s energy sources and reducing its carbon footprint.
A noteworthy observation from the “Review23” report is the shift in the trends of biomass power generation. In the past, biomass energy production had exhibited steady growth, with rates of 9.4% from 2018 to 2019 and 6.1% from 2019 to 2020. However, in 2022, the sector experienced a different trajectory, with a 16% decline in electricity generation compared to the previous year. While this decrease may raise questions, it underscores the need for continuous evaluation and adaptation within the renewable energy sector.
While biomass remains a significant player in the UK’s renewable energy landscape, other technologies have been steadily gaining ground. Anaerobic digestion, a process that converts organic matter into biogas and nutrient-rich digestate, contributed just over 1% of the UK’s power generation in 2022. This technology harnesses the energy potential of organic waste, highlighting the importance of sustainable waste management practices.
Waste-to-energy technologies, which encompass various approaches such as energy-from-waste, landfill gas utilization, and sewage sludge digestion, contributed approximately 3% to the UK’s power generation in 2022. Among these, energy-from-waste accounted for about half of the total waste-based generation. Landfill gas, sewage sludge digestion, and animal biomass contributed 33%, 10%, and 6%, respectively, showcasing the diverse range of resources being tapped into for energy production.
Beyond electricity generation, the report delves into the role of renewables in heat and cooling. Renewable sources accounted for 8.36% of the UK’s heat consumption in 2022, signifying their importance in reducing emissions associated with heating. Within this landscape, biomass played a substantial role, contributing to 60% of the heat generated from renewables, equivalent to approximately 32,000 GWh.
Breaking down biomass heat generation, it becomes evident that plant biomass, wood generation, and waste wood generation played critical roles. Plant biomass led the way with 57%, followed by wood generation at 32% and waste wood generation at 11%. This diversification within biomass heat generation reflects the adaptability and versatility of biomass as a renewable energy source.
The “Review23” report sheds light on the significant impact of the biomass energy sector on employment in the UK. In 2022, the biomass energy sector accounted for 2,744 jobs, showcasing its role in providing employment opportunities within the renewable energy industry. Additionally, the broader production of biomass, including wood for fuel, contributed to 12,796 jobs across the country. These figures underscore the role of biomass in not only addressing energy needs but also in bolstering the economy and supporting livelihoods.
In the grand scheme of the renewable energy and clean tech sector, which encompasses various technologies and industries, including wind, solar, and waste management, the total employment figure stood at an impressive 140,700 jobs. This highlights the overarching contribution of renewable energy and clean technology to job creation and economic growth in the UK.
As the UK continues to pursue its renewable energy goals and strives to reduce its carbon footprint, biomass remains a valuable asset, and its evolution and adaptation in response to changing trends will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of sustainable energy in the country.
Writing by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White