Biomass sustainability

All bioliquid stations, and solid biomass and/or biogas stations ≥1MW must report against and meet particular sustainability criteria in order to be eligible for Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs).


Solid biomass and/or biogas stations <1MW are required to report against the sustainability criteria, but receiving ROCs does not depend on meeting the criteria.

Sustainability criteria

These are:

  • Land criteria: which focuses on the land from which the biomass is sourced
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) criteria: which account for the life cycle GHG emissions of the biomass.

The development of the land and GHG criteria has come from the requirements imposed by the European Commission via the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The RED sets out the sustainability criteria a bioliquid must meet in order to receive support under national incentive schemes. The UK government has also implemented sustainability criteria for solid and gaseous biomass.

Sustainability reporting requirements

  • Land and GHG criteria. For all bioliquids and stations ≥1MW using solid biomass and/or biogas fuels, land use and GHG emission information is submitted on a monthly basis. For these stations both the land and GHG criteria must be met to be eligible for support. For stations <1MW using solid biomass and/or biogas this information is reported annually and does not link to ROC issue.
  • Annual profiling data. The annual profiling data contains information submitted by the operator regarding the sustainability characteristics of their fuel. This includes information such as: type of biomass, the form of biomass, country of origin and whether it was wood or derived from wood. Fuelled stations >50kW declared net capacity (DNC) are required to provide this information to us following the obligation year.
  • Annual Sustainability Audit Report. The Annual Sustainability Audit Report is an independent audit report commissioned by generating stations using bioliquid fuels and stations ≥1MW using solid biomass and/or biogas fuels. The aim of the audit is to verify the sustainability information that has been submitted by the operator.

Sustainability guidance documents and templates

We’ve produced a range of guidance documents which may help operators of fuelled generating stations to meet the sustainability requirements under the Renewables Obligation (RO).

Renewables Obligation: Sustainability Criteria Guidance:  This gives guidance to operators of generating stations using biomass with guidance on the sustainability requirements under the RO and is effective from 1 March 2016.

Renewables Obligation: Sustainability Reporting Guidance: This guide explains how operators of generating stations using biomass can comply with the sustainability reporting requirements under the RO and is effective from 1 March 2016.

Renewables Obligation: Annual Sustainability Template: Operators of biomass stations with a DNC >50kW should use this template to submit their annual information on the sustainability characteristics of their fuel. This also includes the data template required for the annual sustainability audit report.

Carbon Calculators

The carbon calculators have been developed to support operators determining the GHG emissions associated with the cultivation, processing and transportation of their biomass fuels. The calculators are available via the following links:

Fuel measurement and sampling

The sustainability requirements may impact how a fuelled generating station agrees their fuel measurement and sampling (FMS) procedures. For more information relevant to fuelled stations and FMS procedures please refer to the Fuelled stations and FMS page.

Need help?

If you have a specific query regarding sustainability under the RO, please email

If you would like to speak to someone directly, please call the team on 0207 901 7310. Select the option for the Renewables Obligation and ask to speak to a member of the Fuelling and Sustainability team.

If you wish to be added to our stakeholder mailing list, please provide your contact information on via our news and updates subscription pages. You can select ‘Yes’ to ‘Renewable Electricity: Fuelling and Sustainability’ to receive updates.

We host quarterly Fuelling and Sustainability workshops. Aimed at fuelled stations, these will guide you through all the requirements of FMS and Sustainability. Please email us with details of what you are interested in learning more about and when you would like to attend.

Publications and updates