Biomass is perfect for North East says energy entrepreneur

Neil Harrison is speaking this week at the International Biomass Conference and Expo, and hopes to stir enthusiasm for UK biomass

Neil Harrison
Neil Harrison

Energy entrepreneur Neil Harrison thinks the North East is a perfect development ground for biomass technology as he heads stateside for a major international conference.

The co-founder of Alnwick-based wood fuel heating specialists re:heat is set to address the International Biomass Conference and Expo in Minneapolis this week and is hoping to demonstrate how the UK can extend its use of biomass.

Mr Harrison said North East assets such as Kielder Forest and the Port of Tyne, coupled with a cooler climate, make biomass an ideal energy solution for the region.

He said: “Biomass provides the link between the rural and urban areas, and this is what the best projects are doing at the moment. Given the geographical makeup of the North East, the region could really benefit in this respect.

“We take an active role in the development of the industry and this opportunity in Minneapolis is about sharing knowledge and raising the profile of re:heat.

“I’m hoping to talk about the opportunity for wood pellet products in the UK, and outline why the Renewable Heat Incentive in this country makes investment attractive.”

Mr Harrison, who has spoken at previous International Biomass Conferences, will feature on a panel in two sessions at the event.

Around 1,400 delegates from 41 countries and 48 US states are expected at the show.

In his address, Mr Harrison will draw on an article he authored for Biomass Magazine which outlines the generous support on offer to businesses who want to move to biomass.

Re:heat’s team of four typically work with rural homeowners who are keen to move away from increasingly expensive domestic heating oil systems, and also energy intensive industries such as food processors.

Mr Harrison added: “The UK some way behind its European neighbours on biomass development. The Germans and Austrians have an industry that is 30 to 40 years old, with established manufacturing centres.

“Given our relatively low forest cover, it’s unlikely the UK will ever perform on that level. However, there’s still a big opportunity for biomass to become part of a sustainable energy mix.

“I’m confident there will always be a need for heat, but what we haven’t really had in the UK is a sensible energy policy. Politicians shouldn’t be making promises in the energy field — it requires long term thinking and long term investment. I firmly believe that energy policy should not be tied to five year election cycles.”

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