The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has released its 2023 Progress Report on Reducing Emissions in Wales, highlighting the progress made towards reducing carbon emissions in the country.
The report considers Wales’ progress towards meeting its legally binding target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 and assesses whether Wales is on track to meet its emissions reduction targets. The report indicates that whilst the First Carbon Budget (2016-2020) has been achieved, Wales is not yet on track to meet its targets for the second half of this decade and beyond.
By the Third Carbon Budget, for the period between 2026-2030, Wales will be required to have reduced emissions by 39% compared to pre-pandemic (2019) levels. The report states that :
“Tangible progress has been insufficient in many areas that are dependent on Welsh Government policy powers. Most notably, tree-planting rates and peatland restoration rates are far too low, and development of the charging infrastructure needed to support the transition to electric vehicles is not happening quickly enough.”
Whilst the report does not mention biomass as a major contributor to the electricity supply in Wales, it is included in the policy scorecard for fuel supply under the heading ‘Bioenergy Supply’. Welsh Government has committed to developing its position on the long-term role of biomass in a sustainable energy system and clarifying its role in reaching Net Zero before the end of its Second Carbon Budget period (2021-25). However, The Welsh Government’s position on this will be informed by the UK Government’s Biomass Strategy which was due in 2022, but as yet has not been published.
The report states that: “a bioenergy action plan should be developed, clarifying the Welsh Government’s position on bioenergy, setting out its best use, key delivery mechanisms, available funding, licensing requirements and future timelines (recommendation R2023-025).”
The development of such a plan would offer a clearer role for biomass production as part of Wales’ strategy for achieving Net Zero, allowing appropriate sectoral development.
Also of note to the biomass industry is the policy scorecard for engineered removals which addresses Bioenergy and Carbon Capture (BECCS), which states that there is: “an urgent need for the UK Government to provide clarity on engineered removals business models and produce guidance on MRV [Measurement, Reporting and Verification] and biomass sustainability”
The recommendation is that a feasibility study should be carried out as soon as possible (recommendation R2023-049). The study should assess the deployment potential of different engineered removals technologies. It should also identify potential new-build and retrofit sites by considering the proximity to biomass feedstocks, access to CCS networks and impacts on energy systems. The outcomes of the study should also contribute towards a Welsh Government view on the role it expects engineered removals to play in delivering Net Zero in Wales.
Overall, the report summarises that Wales has taken some positive steps towards its Net Zero targets, but the Welsh Government is not using its policy powers to full effect:
“In those sectors where policy is mostly controlled in Wales, the effort is insufficient to achieve the emissions reduction required. In particular, agriculture and land use are missing an overarching decarbonisation strategy and the Welsh Government’s plan for the Second Carbon Budget (2021-2025) projects a slight increase in emissions from agriculture.”
This suggests a potentially large role for perennial biomass crops as part of the future land-based decarbonisation strategy for Wales, which is currently requiring specification in order to be truly actionable and deliverable.
You can download the full report here: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Progress-Report-Reducing-emissions-in-Wales.pdf