Bioenergy: update - March 2021

Considers the potential role for bioenergy to support our net zero greenhouse emissions targets and outlines how we intend to move forward over the next 18 to 24 months to understand the most appropriate and sustainable use of bioenergy resources in Scotland.

1. Ministerial Foreword

Paul Wheelhouse - Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands

Paul Wheelhouse

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands

Decarbonisation of our energy system, and doing so at pace, is essential to meet our ambitious targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 and Net Zero by 2045. Our Climate Change Plan update (CCPU), published at the end of December 2020, set out bold actions, which chart our pathway to our new emissions reduction targets out to 2032 and sets out the steps we will take to support a green economic recovery and a just transition for the people and communities of Scotland. The CCPU will therefore help to ensure that our transition to net zero is geared to creating jobs, enabling sectors like oil and gas to diversify and one that enables a green economic recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recent advice from our statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), states that "sustainable bioenergy is essential for reaching net zero". This document, in response, sets out our programme of work that we plan to undertake to appraise the potential to scale up our bioenergy sector, in line with the CCC advice.

Biomass provides two main routes to mitigate climate change and reduce emissions. First, as a carbon sink, it helps by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for long periods of time in soils, trees and other plants. Second, as a renewable energy source, it helps by directly displacing oil, coal and natural gas use or by decarbonising the fuel source for the production of materials such as steel and cement.

Biomass production is part of a land system with finite assets that provide multi-functional uses and benefits for all of Scotland. We need to better understand these relationships and interdependencies, to ensure that the land and resulting biomass are used in the most effective way.

In order to do this we will engage across a wide range of sectors: agriculture, forestry, energy, waste, planning, transport and environment, guided by an Expert Panel, which we will establish over summer 2021. This will ensure we capture a comprehensive range of perspectives and take a 'whole system' view in developing the actions we will take in Scotland in respect of bioenergy.

Our approach, set out in this document, is to understand and support the role and potential of bioenergy to help meet our net zero targets.

Paul Wheelhouse

Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands



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