The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM)

AEBIOM and EBA publishes a position paper on sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass


Brussels -- AEBIOM and EBA publishes a position paper on sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass. The two associations support the introduction of sustainability scheme for solid and gaseous biomass if such criteria ensures a harmonised framework in the EU, flexibility by taking into account the existing schemes, cost effectiveness by diminishing administrative burden and equal level playing field.

Sustainably produced biomass will play a major role in the EU’s transition from a fossil-fuel based unsustainable economy to a low carbon economy in less than 40 years. AEBIOM and EBA are committed to the development of sustainable biomass and welcome the introduction of a harmonized European sustainability framework which would meet the needs of the sector and would take into account its’ particularities. AEBIOM’s and EBA’s vision is to ensure a sustainable biomass production in forestry and agriculture, independently of the outlets it will be used for: feed, food, materials and energy.

The European Commission has published a report in February 2010, formulating recommendations on sustainability criteria for Member States wishing to implement a national system for solid and gaseous biomass for electricity, heating and cooling. The Commission has to report in 2011, for the second time, on sustainability criteria, and, if considered necessary, propose schemes to be applied to solid and gaseous biomass for heat and electricity.

Regarding solid and gaseous biomass use for electricity, heating and cooling production, AEBIOM and EBA support the implementation of a harmonized EU sustainability framework, which is in line with the following principles:

  1. Harmonization – avoiding EU internal trade distortions caused by incompatible national requirements;
  2. Flexibility – adopting existing schemes, relevant national legislation and sustainable forest management initiatives;
  3. Equal level playing field – avoiding the excessive overlapping of different rules for the same raw material and aiming at the progressive application of the criteria to all biomass independently of its’ final use;
  4. Cost effectiveness and proportionality – avoiding excessive administrative burden and costs, in particular for small market actors.

Sustainable biomass will play a crucial role in reaching the renewable energy targets in 2020 and in achieving the low carbon economy goals by 2050. According to the national Renewable Energy Action Plans (nREAPs), the total contribution of bioenergy will amount to 139 Mtoe final energy in 2020. The 2020 biomass supply is estimated to reach 123 Mtoe. Assuming that the information given by the nREAPs is accurate, it implies that imports of biomass will increase significantly to reach 2020 targets. The increased demand for biomass and the expansion of international trade of biomass may lead to higher risks for unsustainably produced biomass. Legislation should address sustainability issues before environmental impacts discredit the whole bioenergy sector, implying potentially significant market impacts for the whole bioenergy industry.

The developments of national sustainability schemes in the member states and regions, which are not necessarily complementary or compatible, create intra-EU cross-border barriers in setting up bio-energy projects.

Current discussions on sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass have created uncertainty in terms of future sustainability requirements for biomass in the EU. Clarity should be provided to stimulate investment and ensure stability for the bioenergy sector.

For these reasons, AEBIOM and EBA support the development of a harmonized EU sustainability framework for solid and gaseous biomass for electricity, heat and cooling which takes into account the sector’s particularities.

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