Rules for biomass fuel – woodfuel requirements

What are the woodfuel requirements?

New woodfuel quality requirements, introduced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), came into force on 1 April 2022. Participants using solid biomass, which is wood that is used to generate heat, must comply with the woodfuel quality criteria to continue to receive Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Payments. This information will be requested on a quarterly basis alongside meter readings and sustainability information.

The RHI regulations defines “Woodfuel” in the context of the woodfuel quality criteria as “woodchip, logs, wood pellets and wood briquettes, regardless of whether the wood will undergo any other process before burning.”

To help you, we have provided some answers to key questions below. However, it is not an exhaustive list and you should refer to Chapter 4 of the NDRHI Guidance Volume 2: Ongoing obligations and payments, available on our website’s main NDRHI guidance page, alongside relevant subsidiary documents such as Sustainability Audit GuidanceGuidance: Fuel Measurement and Sampling (FMS); and Sustainability Self-Reporting Guidance.

What is the temporary suspension of the fuel quality requirement for wood pellets?

To mitigate against wood pellet shortages, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) introduced new RHI scheme regulations on 22 November 2022 to temporarily suspend the woodfuel quality criteria for wood pellets only.

This will suspend the requirement for wood pellets to meet the EN Plus A1 standard (and any subsequent version of that standard, or an equivalent standard) for 12 months, from 23 November 2022 to 22 November 2023. 

During the suspension period, wood pellets will not need to be certified on the Woodsure Certification scheme.

All other wood fuels (i.e. woodchip, logs and wood briquettes) must continue to meet the current wood fuel quality standards, a subsequent version of those standards, or equivalent. They must also continue to be certified on the Woodsure Certification Scheme.

More details on the temporary suspension of the wood pellet requirements can be found in Chapter 4 of NDRHI Guidance Volume 2: Ongoing obligations and payments on our website’s main NDRHI guidance page, along with our Sustainability Audit Guidance; Guidance: Fuel Measurement and Sampling (FMS); and Sustainability Self-Reporting Guidance.

Please note - you will still be required to demonstrate that your wood pellets met the ENPlus A1 or equivalent standard requirement before the temporary suspension came into force - between 1 April 2022 and 22 November 2022.

The new regulations give the Secretary of State power to suspend the wood pellet quality standard in the event of future wood pellet shortages. 

You can find more details about these changes in the Government Response.

What do I need to do if I source fuel from the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL)?

From 1 April 2022, you will be able to demonstrate you meet the wood fuel quality criteria each quarter by sourcing wood pellets from the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL).

This is subject to the temporary suspension of the wood pellet requirements from 23 November 2022 to 22 November 2023. You will still be able to demonstrate you meet the requirements of the RHI scheme by sourcing wood pellets from the BSL during the suspension period.

What information do I need to provide alongside my annual sustainability report?

If you provide an annual sustainability audit report, where woodfuel has been used on or after 1 April 2022, the corresponding audit report for this period should include a statement from the auditor, declaring that they have assessed the fuel against the woodfuel quality criteria. Additionally, the auditor should clearly state whether each consignment of woodfuel has met the criteria. This could be in the form of a statement or as an additional column in the Part B Quarterly Biomass Data table. We will be amending our sustainability audit guidance for participants and auditors to reflect this additional requirement.

In all cases, it is important that you keep all fuel receipts or invoices that show fuel authorisation number, date of purchase and volume purchased as we may ask to see evidence.