The Government’s decision last year to temporarily suspend the need for large UK users to only use ENplus A1® standard wood pellets was and has been well received by the UK’s biomass for heating industry.
The move, brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, helped to free up supplies for smaller biomass boiler owners, enabled traders to navigate challenging market conditions, and ultimately allowed lower quality wood pellets to be used for heating.
However, fast forward twelve months and with markets normalising and alternative supply chains now established, the UK Pellet Council (UKPC) is working closely with OFGEM and The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to collectively communicate the closure of the temporary suspension.
This will come to an end on Wednesday 22 November 2023 meaning that all UK traders and customers will be asked to (and be required to) use any low grade, non-ENplus A1® pellet stock by this date.
Due to the support given by the Government and DESNZ (formerly the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) at the time, both the UK’s wood pellet and biomass for heating sectors have witnessed minimal disruption to consumer supply, especially over the winter months when customer demand is usually greater.
This was despite a complete ban of all wood products (including pellets) coming from Russia since April 2022 which removed up to 3.5 million tonnes of pellets from the European supply chain.
Mark Lebus, Chair of the UK Pellet Council, explained, “Given the scale of this reduction and the speed in which sanctions were applied, having no interruption to supply for UK biomass boiler owners was a major achievement and something which couldn’t be done by fossil fuel suppliers who continue to import Russian gas, oil and coal.”
“The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero was very proactive in managing the short-term issues arising from the situation in Ukraine, and we thank the Biomass Team as well as OFGEM for their approach and continued dialogue.”
“The 12 month suspension has absolutely served its purpose, minimising possible disruption and providing time for new supply chains to be established. This also ensured the security of supply to UK biomass customers over the winter period which despite being unusually warm, also saw less wood pellets being used than first anticipated. This, as a result, helped to free up additional product capacity within Europe.”
“The industry is in a strong position which is very encouraging given the role it has to play within net zero and future energy security policy.”
The UK Pellet Council, the trade body representing the UK wood pellet industry, also played an integral part helping to facilitate introductions with alternative suppliers as traders restructured their global supply chains within weeks. This was to accommodate more than 300,000 tonnes of wood pellets per annum being imported into the UK.
Domestic producers also played a key role in the restructuring process by expanding individual capacity to meet increased demand. This pattern was also mirrored across Europe as production ramped up and investment in new plants was delivered, for example, in Germany where the Government supported the installation of 80,000 new biomass boilers in less than a year as consumers moved away from a dependence on natural gas and heating oil.
Therefore, with the closure of the suspension on the horizon and the reinstating of strict ENplus® requirements only six months away, the UKPC is asking The Department of Energy Security and Net Zero to start clear and regular communications with traders, producers and end users about the forthcoming change.
Mark added, “The ENplus A1® accreditation is an internationally-recognised industry standard used to ensure optimal efficiencies are achieved in both domestic household and commercial biomass systems. There is a need for this requirement to return as soon as it is feasible to in order to maintain the high standards which the industry operates to, and also deter any lower grade wood pellets being sold as higher quality ENplus A1® products. Such a scenario could cause damage to smaller biomass boilers and void manufacturers’ warranties.”
“The UKPC will therefore fully support OFGEM and DESNZ in clearly communicating the end of the suspension and the reinstating the ENplus A1® certification criteria. Furthermore, we are hopeful that the soon to be published Biomass Strategy paper will also provide new incentives to increase UK wood pellet production as suggested within Chris Skidmore MP’s Net Zero Review.”
All registered ENplus®traders can produce a unique licence guaranteeing that the pellets being sold are from a controlled chain of custody and delivered accordingly. The BSL trademark is a prerequisite for customers receiving Renewable Heat Incentive payments and demonstrates products are sustainably sourced. Therefore to assure high quality wood pellets, ENplus® must be requested.
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