In a joint press release published on March 13, the European Biomass Association and the European Association of Electricity Industry advocate establishing harmonised, binding sustainability criteria for solid biomass.
According to the paper, EU utilities have already taken the lead in voluntary measures by collectively developing sustainability requirements for pelletised biomass and sourcing wood from certified forests (such as PEFC or FSC). The voluntary approaches should be substantiated and finalised by a legal framework at the EU level. Biomass imports continue to increase and sustainability criteria are needed.
More than half of the EU renewable energy target indicated by the National Renewable Energy Action Plans is expected to be met by various forms of bioenergy. Biomass use in heating and cooling is expected to increase by 47% and biomass use for electricity generation is projected to more than double between 2010 and 2020. Harmonised sustainability criteria will ensure that these expected increases continue to take place within a sustainable framework.
“EU harmonised, mandatory sustainability criteria will provide a stable investment climate for energy producers and biomass suppliers,” said Hans ten Berge, Secretary General of EURELECTRIC. Over the last years, the absence of such harmonisation has led to varying national sustainability rules, undermining the goal of achieving an EU-wide internal energy market by 2014. This regulatory complexity hampers trade both within the EU and internationally and increases costs. “The current uncertainty on the outcome and timetable of possible new EU measures on biomass sustainability is
now delaying biomass investments“.
According to both associations, the criteria should be based on reliable science and focus on major environmental concerns. The implementation of the criteria should take into account existing national forest legislations and system inventories, as well as sustainable forest management certifications and practices. Only a balanced and non-bureaucratic proposal will allow mobilising and delivering to the market the sufficient volumes of biomass necessary to achieve EU energy and climate policies objectives.