Skip to main content

Biofuels: Air Pollution

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the answer of 2 November 2009, Official Report, column 672W, on biofuels: air pollution, if he will estimate the levels of (a) mortality and (b) morbidity arising from additional emissions of (i) between 1.7 and 6.3 kt of fine particles and (ii) between 1.3 and 7.6 kt of coarser particles consequent upon achieving the biomass targets set out in the renewable energy strategy. (301637)

I have been asked to reply.

The health impacts on air quality of the increase in particle emissions referred to in the question were converted to monetary values, using advice from the Department of Health on the health effects of particles and economic methodologies agreed by the Interdepartmental Group on Costs and Benefits. The impacts of fine and coarse particles were not assessed individually.

The impacts on morbidity resulting from the uptake of biomass as a renewable energy source were also not assessed during the analyses.

The available estimates of the number of life years lost in 2020 from the impact on air quality of the increased biomass combustion was estimated to be 340,000 for an uptake of 38 TWh of biomass with appliances with the very lowest emission on the market emitting 1.3 kt of coarse particles and 1,300,000 for medium quality units representing what is typical of the currently available units emitting annually 7.6 kt of coarse particles.

The results presented above are for the whole of the UK and are given in their raw output form. The analysis is subject to considerable uncertainty in the underlying assumptions.