Industry Overview

Bio-energy is an umbrella term for renewable natural organic material — be that wood, crops or other feedstock such as food or agricultural wastes — used to create electricity, heat and transport fuel.  

The term Biomass usually applies to solid biofuel, where Biogas applies to liquids and gases. Current or ‘first-generation’ biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are produced from sugar, starch and plant oils; new biofuels from other sources are under development and termed ‘advanced biofuels’. Biogas includes biomethane, obtained through the anaerobic digestion of plant matter. In 2015 these forms of bioenergy together accounted for 70.72% of the UK’s renewable energy across electricity, heat and transport.


“The UK is legally bound to provide for 15% of its energy needs — including 30% of its electricity, 12% of its heat, and 10% of its transport fuel — from renewable sources by 2020. We expect the Government will surpass the electricity sub-target, but success in this sector may not compensate for under performance in heat and transport. It is not yet halfway towards 12% in heat and the proportion of renewable energy used in transport actually fell last year. On its current course, the UK will fail to achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets.”


Energy and Climate Change Committee Report September 2016



Of the 16.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent of primary energy use accounted for by renewables, 12.1 million tonnes was used to generate electricity, 3.5 million tonnes generated heat, and 1.0 million tonnes was used for road transport.


Renewable energy use grew by 20% between 2014 and 2015 and is now over six and a half times the level it was at in 2000. 

UK Sources of Renewable Energy 2017