RHI Biomass Fuel Guidance – suspension of fuel quality requirements for wood pellet fuel only  


UK Statutory Instrument2022 No. 159 

ENERGYThe Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme and Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2022 

Please be aware that the Government has introduced a suspension of fuel quality for pellets only and came into force 23rd November 2022 for a period of up to 1 year.   This means that the fuel quality requirements for wood pellets for use in biomass boilers and plant where the owner receives Renewable Heat Incentive payments via OFGEM are not required while this suspension is in effect. 

In February 2022 Government introduced amended regulation requiring that any wood fuel with a Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) number must also meet the relevant quality standards as described in Regulation 4.  

Following an appropriate consultation process, made necessary by a global shortage of quality pellet supplies because of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the UK Government published its response which concluded: 

We are grateful for the valuable responses to this consultation. The government now plans to implement a 12-month suspension to the fuel quality requirement for RHI participants using wood pellets specified in Schedule 4A, paragraph 2. We are confident that a 12-month suspension strikes the right balance to make additional supplies of wood pellets available for this winter. In turn it should also serve to mitigate against potential price rises due to a lack of supply. 

This temporary suspension will be enacted through secondary legislation and will apply to both the non-domestic and domestic RHI schemes. We will work with the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) administrator to ensure that these pellets can be temporarily accepted on the List subject to compliance with other requirements. We will work with Ofgem to ensure that their compliance regime is adjusted to reflect the changes. We will work with Ofgem to update guidance for participants to be aware of the requirements stated in their emissions certificate when sourcing fuel. 

Additionally, we are considering bringing forward secondary legislation to give the Secretary of State the power to temporarily suspend the requirement for domestic and non-domestic RHI participants to use ENplus certified pellets. This power could be used in situations of a shortage of wood pellets in the domestic market, with agreement across government. Our commitments to improve fuel efficiency and air quality remain; therefore, ahead of using such power, we will engage with the biomass industry and consider potential impacts on air quality and fuel efficiency.” 

How does this affect pellet suppliers? 

The Government has introduced a suspension of fuel quality for pellets from 23rd November 2022 for a period of up to 1 year.  During this period, fuel suppliers will be able to register wood pellets on the BSL that meet the sustainability criteria but are exempt from the fuel quality requirements. Suppliers are encouraged to ensure that fuel quality remains an important consideration and they provide all relevant information to their customers to enable them to make an informed choice with regards what pellets their boiler can operate on and whether they may or may not have any issues.

How does this affect RHI participants? 

Fuel quality remains an important consideration for purchasers of pellet fuels for biomass boilers and plant.  

Boiler operation and efficiency 

Many smaller boilers in particular, rely heavily on the continued use of a specific grade or type of pellets specified by the boiler manufacturer and/or for effective and efficient operation. There may be manufacturers warrantee conditions for boilers under guarantee, where use of a specific fuel type is specified. 

Boiler emissions certificate 

As part of the RHI and NDRI approval process a specific fuel may have been specified on the boiler emissions certificate to control smoke emissions. Use of other grades of fuel may adversely affect the operation of the appliance and may mean that the emissions requirements in the Regulations are not met. See OFGEM Guidance as they are the Administrators of the financial incentive aspect of RHI.  

Larger boilers 

It is important to consider any fuel quality issues and warrantee provisions etc. Although many larger appliances and plant may tolerate a wider range of pellet grades, it is important to get appropriate specialist advice to be sure that your specific appliance can tolerate any intended grade of fuel.  

BSL Search 

Changes have been implemented to the BSL website to remove reference to fuel quality when searching for wood pellets. Following the suspension period, these references will be added back on to the website. 

It is hoped that operators choose appropriate fuels for their circumstances in the hope that if there are winter shortages there are appropriate quality pellets available in the market for those whose boilers need them.  

The full government consultation response can be viewed here.