Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our frequently asked questions but if you have a question about the SFR that doesn’t appear here please contact us.


The Sustainable Fuel Register (SFR) allows participants of the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) to easily demonstrate that the fuel used in their biomass boiler meets the sustainability criteria to the standard required by Ofgem.

Traders who successfully register their fuel on the SFR will be able to use the SFR Authorised logo to demonstrate their fuel is compliant with RHI criteria. The SFR website enables end users to search for a suitable supplier and fuel. Purchasing SFR authorised fuel will give end users the assurance that their fuel complies with RHI sustainability requirements.

SFR is a partnership between FEC Energy and Crops for Energy. It has been approved by the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and fulfils the RHI Regulations. At the time of writing, the only other approved list is the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL), which is a register of wood derived fuels. 

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a government scheme aimed at significantly increasing the proportion of heat generated from renewable sources.

Systems that are eligible for the RHI are required to demonstrate that the fuel used in biomass systems is sustainable and meets the land criteria.

RHI sustainability requirements were introduced from 5 October 2015.  From this point onwards, any RHI accredited project involving the generation of heat (or heat and power) from biomass or biogas were required to meet a minimum GHG emissions limit and specific land criteria. 

Biomass fuel must meet a lifecycle GHG emissions target of 34.8g CO2 equivalent per megajoule (MJ) of heat, or 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average when used in a boiler which achieves an average seasonal efficiency of 70%.

All life cycle emissions are taken into account when calculating GHG savings. This includes emissions from cultivation, processing, transport and use.

The specific land criteria requirements for non-wood solid biomass and energy crops are outlined in Part 3 of Schedule 2B of the RHI Regulations.

Solid biomass (as well as liquid or gaseous biofuels) cannot be grown in areas converted from land with previously high carbon stock such as wetlands or forests. Biomass cannot be produced from raw materials obtained from land with high biodiversity such as primary forests or highly biodiverse grasslands.

RHI participants need to be able to demonstrate that the biomass they are using is not obtained from a ‘protected source’.

The Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) only covers wood fuels. Until SFR was set up, RHI participants using non-wood biomass fuels such as straw and miscanthus grass were forced to self-report against the sustainability criteria. Self reporting is more expensive and time consuming.

Furthermore, suppliers and traders previously had no mechanism for demonstrating the sustainability of their fuels and therefore could not sell into the RHI market. SFR will thereby provide additional routes to market for tens of thousands of tonnes of previously unavailable biomass and help to reduce the amount of straw, and other residues, either being exported for a low price or discarded.

SFR approval relates to the fuel registered and not the company or individual that registered it. The key unit recognized by SFR is a ‘fuel lot’ which is a defined quantity of fuel,  categorised by its quantity, origin, production process and its transportation distance.

As the fuel is traded, successive traders will be able to append the fuel lot with any additional GHG emissions as a result of further transportation or processing. The registration and application process will require that each fuel lot is identified and statements provided about its sustainability against GHG and land criteria. If approved, a fuel lot will be given its own specific SFR number.

If a supplier sells on to a trader then the latter should make a separate registration and on approval will also be provided with a new authorisation number. This number will retain a link to the previous authorisation number and therefore provide full traceability and chain of custody information for a fuel.

RHI participants wishing to verify the sustainability and/or registration of the fuel will be able to query the database on the SFR website. The query will return who has registered the fuel, total quantity and quantity remaining to be traded (this will be a function of the quarterly returns each supplier completes).

The SFR process will increase the traceability of fuels as they pass through the supply chain. In addition, the procedures will increase the accuracy of sustainability reporting. 

Fuels covered by SFR include agricultural residues, conservation residues, wastes and energy crops. The list includes (but is not limited to) non-wood fuels such as:

  • Arboricultural residues
  • Bagasse
  • Canary Grass
  • Cereal straw and husks
  • Cereals, Rye or Maize
  • Cobs
  • Coffee grounds mix
  • Conservation arisings (Bracken, gorse etc)
  • Distillaters grains and residues
  • Fishery and aquacultural residues
  • Food waste
  • Fruit and vegetables – marketable and non-marketable
  • Hemp
  • Manure mix
  • Miscanthus
  • Molasses
  • Non-cereal husks
  • Non-cereal straw
  • Non-nut shells
  • Nut shells
  • Oil pressings - non virgin
  • Other grass
  • Poultry litter
  • Pure coffee grounds
  • Pure Manure
  • Reed Grasses
  • Silage grass
  • Switch Grass
  • Virgin Oil meal

There are many other fuels covered under SFR. If your fuel is not listed above then contact the SFR administrators.  Alternatively, see Appendix 2 – Common fuel classifications of the RHI Sustainability Self-Reporting Guidance

Raw materials will need to undergo further processing such as drying, transformation into pellets etc. The end process of a raw material that is ready for use in a boiler is called the fuel.

There is no limit to the amount of fuels registered under SFR. Records and information must be kept accessible for audit requirements.

SFR covers all participants in the supply chain including producers of non-wood fuels (e.g. farmers), traders of non-wood fuels and RHI participants (end users).

SFR Participant Description
Producer

These have responsibility for growing the raw materials, sourcing raw materials and in some cases initial processing into a fuel. These participants would be expected to pass on materials of fuels to other traders or end users depending on need. They may also use their fuel themselves in any RHI accredited system they are authorised signatory for.

Traders These participants would purchase fuels or materials from producers for sale on to others. They may also add further processing to get the materials/fuel into a format they trade with. Traders may also use fuel in RHI accredited installations that they are authorised signatories for.
End Users These participants will purchase fuel from either one of the above. We would not allow them to add any further processing or travel based emissions. These participants would need to set up an SFR account to accept allocated fuel from traders and to get issued their unique SFR number associated with their RHI accredited system.

 

 

SFR is the first industry led, self-sustaining approved list. There is an annual fee of £125 which covers the cost of registering a fuel lot of up to 125 tonnes. Fuel lots greater than 125 tonnes will be charged an additional cost of £0.50/tonne. Table 1 below indicates the cost of SFR membership for three types of participant.

Table 1: Example expenditure according to the amount of fuel registered on the SFR.

SFR Participant

Fuel

Annual prodn/ usage

Annual cost

Producer

Miscanthus chips

75 tonnes

£125.00

Producer

Straw

200 tonnes

£162.50

Trader

Non-wood pellets

5,000 tonnes

£2,562.50

No. The system is very flexible in that there is no time limit in which a fuel lot must be used. An individual or company can register a fuel lot and then draw down over time as it is traded or used. 

No. Additional fuel can be registered separately under the same account. This will not require an additional annual fee but may be subject to an additional fuel fee. For instance, if you open an SFR account and register 75 tonnes you will pay the £125 fee. If you wished to add a further 100 tonnes to your account you would need to go through the Register a Fuel process from the start. In this case, you would be charged £25 for the additional fuel.   

You can search the SFR website for suppliers of authorised fuel or check whether your existing supplier is registered by name or using your postcode. If they are you should still contact them to ensure the specific fuel you buy is authorised.

Please note that it is important to check that the specific fuel you are purchasing has an SFR authorisation number, as sellers may also sell other fuels which are not authorised on the SFR and may therefore not meet the RHI sustainability requirements.

Before you buy any non-wood fuel, you should check with your installer or boiler manufacturer to see if the boiler is compatible with that fuel. Using the wrong fuel in a boiler can invalidate the warranty and cause damage to the boiler. In addition, you should ask whether the boiler has a relevant RHI emissions certificate for use with the preferred fuel. Failure to present an appropriate emissions certificate could lead to the cessation of RHI payments and previous payments being recalled. 

No. The SFR Authorised logo is not a hallmark of biomass fuel quality. SFR registration simply means that the fuel has fulfilled the sustainability criteria. Currently, there are no quality standards for non-wood fuels. 

It is not obligatory for self-suppliers that have previously self-reported to join SFR. It is possible to continue to self-report. However, by joining SFR these participants will be instructed in how to produce accurate fuel usage data and quarterly GHG emissions outputs. The SFR registration fee (of £125/year) covers the cost of any future fuel audit and by being part of the scheme participants will be better equipped to deal with this and make it as simple a process as possible.  

Applicants are obliged to complete quarterly submissions for any SFR authorised fuel at www.sfregister.org, confirming information from the previous quarter. This will apply to all SFR participants: Producers, Traders, End Users.

All applicants also agree to participating fully in on site audits and retaining all records such as production records, transport records, sales records and usage etc.

Please see Chapter 4 of the RHI Guidance Volume 2 for a full list of your ongoing obligations in relation to fuels including keeping fuel records.