The Biomass Carbon Calculator - Drax

The Biomass Carbon Calculator

Drax is developing world-leading policies and tools to create greater clarity and transparency across the biomass industry, including a new carbon calculator to help businesses calculate their supply chain emissions.

About the calculator

Bioenergy can only be considered a low carbon, sustainable solution when it can be evidenced that significant GHG emission savings to alternative technologies are delivered on a lifecycle basis, considering emissions across the entire supply chain. It is therefore important that the lifecycle emissions of biomass are calculated and reported both accurately and transparently.

The ‘Biomass Carbon Calculator’ is a greenhouse gas lifecycle emission tool developed by Drax that allows accurate calculation of wood pellet supply chain GHG emissions in accordance with UK and EU regulations. The tool is aligned to standard industry reporting units, providing an intuitive and user-friendly platform. The Calculator further supports users looking to estimate lifecycle emissions for complex supply chains, allowing simultaneous modelling of up to 20 different feedstocks and 10 different distribution routes for a single biomass production plant.

To ensure the Calculator meets the needs of stakeholders and regulators, Drax has previously held an open consultation on the Calculator, the details of which can be found here.

Following consultation, we considered all feedback and published an amended version of the Calculator and accompanying User Guide alongside a summary of responses.

The tool has since been independently verified against the methodologies laid out in the UK Renewables Obligation and Annex VI of the EU Renewable Energy Directive recast.

News and case studies

  • 1 May 2020 - Drax launches new biomass carbon calculator that will enable industry to cut emissions from supply chain

  • Enviva’s Sustainable Supply Chain: The Voyage from Low-Value Wood to Low-Carbon Bioenergy

Our sourcing policy

In accordance with UK and EU reporting requirements, combustion emissions for bioenergy are excluded from lifecycle emission accounting provided the biomass is sourced from sustainably managed forestry where carbon stocks are protected. However, we agree with feedback provided to our consultation on the Biomass Carbon Calculator that it is critical we use rigorous and scientifically-grounded evidence to differentiate between biomass sources that genuinely benefit the climate from those that exacerbate the problem for decades into the future.

In testament to this belief, we have aligned our Responsible Sourcing policy to the best science on forest carbon modelling, ensuring that we only use biomass that will deliver climate and wider environmental benefits, both in the short and long term.

Our policy is based on the findings of the Forest Research paper, Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU and commits us to only sourcing biomass that:

  • Reduces CO2 emissions
  • Protects the environment
  • Supports people and communities

To ensure our sourcing aligns to this policy, we will be held to account by our Independent Advisory Board.

We further recognise additional monitoring and evaluation is required to ensure we meet the desired policy aims. We have therefore committed to undertaking detailed analyses of forest carbon stocks and market impacts in our forest sourcing regions to ensure our demand has not had a detrimental impact on carbon stored in these forests or on local markets. These reports have been conducted by forestry experts local to the region, who have a detailed understanding of forest dynamics in the region.

Currently, we have published seven reports:

We expect to publish further catchment area reports in the near future, with a view to covering 70% of our supply base by the end of 2020 and 90% by the end of 2021.