Correctly managed, biomass is a sustainable fuel that can both offer a significant reduction in net carbon emissions compared with fossil fuels and also many ancillary benefits:
- Biomass can be sourced locally, from within the UK, on an indefinite basis, contributing to security of supply.
- UK sourced biomass can offer local business opportunities and support the rural economy.
- The establishment of local networks of production and usage, allows financial and environmental costs of transport to be minimized. There is no region in the UK that cannot be a producer of biomass, although some have greater productivities than others.
- Woodlands, forestry and agriculture are generally perceived to be an environmentally and socially attractive amenity by the UK population, providing opportunities for recreation and leisure activities.
- Many biomass fuels generate lower levels of such atmospheric pollutants as sulphur dioxide that contributes to 'acid rain'. Modern biomass combustion systems are highly sophisticated, offering combustion efficiency and emission levels comparable with the best fossil fuel boilers.
Biomass residues, arisings, co-products and waste not used for energy, or some other application may be consigned to landfill. This imposes costs for disposal, additional burden on limited landfill resources, and also contributes to global warming by the creation of landfill gas, including a high proportion of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent that carbon dioxide.