The UK Government has launched a consultation to gather views on proposed measures to temporarily suspend fuel quality for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) participants using wood pellets.
The government has said it recognizes that the supply of wood pellets in the UK has been affected “due to the suspension of wood pellets originating in or imported from Russia or Belarus” due to the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.
The proposed measure applies to national and non-national RHI schemes.
In January 2021, new legislation introduced an ongoing requirement that all woodfuels must meet the standards set out in Annex 4A of the RHI Regulations.
This came into effect on April 1, 2021, with the cited aim of improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions of harmful air pollutants.
However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to the suspension of the import of Russian and Belarusian pellets by the European Union and the United Kingdom in April 2022, and the import of wood products from one or the other country is prohibited in the UK sanctions legislation which has come into force. June 23, 2022.
It is estimated that up to 40% of ENplus pellets used in the UK are imported from Russia and Belarus. The government has said it recognizes that the suspension of wood pellets from these countries is likely to impact the availability, and therefore the prices of wood pellets in the coming months and throughout next winter.
The government has worked with the UK Pellet Council, trade bodies and industry to assess options to minimize any potential disruption to wood pellet supply.
The government’s proposed suspension of the fuel quality requirement would last for 12 months and allow ‘additional supplies of wood pellets to be used this winter’.
He said this should mitigate potential price increases due to a lack of supply and, despite “the negative short-term impact on energy efficiency and air quality”, the government said that it was “deemed acceptable” so that homes heated with biomass would not experience significant price increases or a lack of fuel supply.
The three issues on which the government consults are:
“issue 1: Do you agree with our proposal to temporarily suspend the fuel quality requirement for wood pellets under the domestic and non-domestic RHI regimes? Please explain your reasoning and include any evidence you believe is relevant.”
“issue 2: Do you agree that a 12-month suspension would be adequate and give the market enough time to adjust to the gap left by Russian and Belarusian pellets?
“issue 3: Do you agree that the Secretary of State has the power to temporarily suspend fuel quality requirements in the future if there is a risk of another pellet shortage?
The government expects responses by 11:45 p.m. on September 11, 2022.
Those wishing to respond should email: [email protected]