Sara Stefanini provides a written summary of our panel discussion held on Wednesday 4th October 2023. It’s a full summary of the 75 minute discussion, and begins conveniently with a summary of the highlights. Under the recently revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII) bioenergy can be counted towards the renewable energy targets – provided that it meets strict sustainability criteria. Bioenergy already accounts for 60% of the EU’s renewable energy, and 85% of renewable heating. Mainstream projections show that the EU cannot reach net zero without the use of bioenergy – especially for transitioning hard-to-abate industrial sectors. But how far can that contribution go in the coming decades? The panellists cover the new scope and its limitations, member state obligations, its role in dispatchable power, aviation and shipping, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and more. The panellists were Katja Viertio, Head of Bioenergy Team, DG ENER C; Andrew Georgiou, Head of Regulation and Policy Europe, Enviva; Irene di Padua, Policy Director, Bioenergy Europe; Simon Göss, Independent CCS expert, Carboneer. Moderated by Energy Post’s Matthew James, the event was sponsored by Enviva.
Katja Viertio – Head of Bioenergy Team, DG ENER C
Andrew Georgiou – Head of Regulation and Policy Europe, Enviva
Irene di Padua – Policy Director, Bioenergy Europe
Simon Göss – Independent CCS expert, Carboneer
Matthew James – Managing Director, Energy Post (moderator)
Renewable Energy Directive III
- RED widens the scope of the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions criteria applied to a larger set of installations.
- It sets limits based on where the biomass comes from, including no-go areas that apply to agricultural biomass and to forest biomass.
- Member states are required to take a more strategic forward-looking approach to their projections and energy system plans.
- Member states are required to assess the availability of sustainable biomass and compare that supply with the projected use of forest biomass for energy and with their obligations under LULUCF.
- National energy and climate plans should include measures that ensure compatibility.
- RED enshrines the principle of the cascading use of biomass.
- RED prohibits direct financial support for the use of quality wood that is suitable for industrial uses.
Bioenergy’s role in climate neutrality
- Bioenergy will need to grow by an average of 67% across different uses to meet the EU’s 2050 targets, says Enviva referencing EC modelling.
- Woody biomass can be a low-cost source of renewable dispatchable power and heat. Heat for industries like steel and lime. It can also be used in the production of advanced biofuels for aviation and shipping.
- Biomass can provide dispatchable, on-demand power and heat, balancing intermittent renewables.
- Biomass can provide sustainable aviation and shipping fuels.
Carbon capture, storage and utilisation
- We will not reach the European or German climate targets without BECCS.
- CCS will have to play a big part in Germany’s pathway to net zero up to 2045. Many of the emissions that need to be captured come from fossil fuels, but most are biogenic.
- Nearly 50% of emissions that can and need to be captured are from waste incineration. Around half of these emissions are of biogenic origin, according to carboneer.
- CCS can be added to create negative emissions. It’s around 30% cheaper to retrofit CCS to an existing biomass plant than to build new.
Under the recently revised Renewable Energy Directive bioenergy can be counted towards the renewable energy targets – provided that it meets strict sustainability criteria designed to ensure that a rise in biomass doesn’t lead to a decline in biodiversity and valuable forest sinks.
Bioenergy already accounts for around 60% of the European Union’s renewable energy, and around 85% of the EU’s renewable heating. Projections make clear that the EU cannot reach net zero emissions without the use of bioenergy – especially to transition hard-to-abate industrial activity that cannot switch from fossil fuels to renewables. These include industries that require high-temperature heat, such as cement, and sustainable aviation and shipping fuels.
The bioenergy industry argues that bioenergy will also be crucial in the energy transition, providing a largely domestic feedstock for steady, reliable electricity that can underpin intermittent renewables. Others, however, caution that bioenergy use must follow the cascading principle that is now enshrined in the Renewable Energy Directive – meaning that it is first used where it adds the most economically environmental value. They also caution that bioenergy is only legally renewable if it follows the sustainability criteria, because otherwise it can lead to depleting forests or use of land that can otherwise be used to produce food.
Carbon capture and storage is still not widely used in Europe but could be important as the bioenergy industry is projected to grow. If CCS is paired with an existing carbon-neutral bioenergy plant it can even lead to negative emissions. Again, however, some caution that while CCS will be needed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it should not incentivise the depletion of forests.
The use of carbon capture and storage with bioenergy will also depend on the economic incentives that develop, including through the European Emissions Trading System and markets for offsetting emissions.
This is a summary, not a verbatim transcript, of the key points made during the online panel event.
Bioenergy is increasingly important in the energy system. The growth is to be had in sectors like transport, combined heat and power plants, cement and lime for the built environment, heating, and large transport like marine and aviation. Maybe less in the traditional power sector.
Biomass and its derivatives, like biomethane and biofuels, are set to boom, as made clear in the regulatory frameworks, climate policy and EU and international targets. For example, higher renewable content in biofuels – up to 29% from 2030 – plus the decarbonisation of industry and power via increased renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS), a giant step in the overall renewables target of 42.5%.
Following a hard fought debate on sustainability, the pathway for bioenergy is open. There are potential upsides, too, from it not just being renewable. The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) considers bioenergy that meets RED criteria to be zero rated.
According to Katja, head of bioenergy at DG ENER C, there will be bioenergy plus CCS (BECCS). Katja – the International Energy Agency’s bioenergy report says that woody biomass can be a sustainable source of energy, an alternative to finite fossil fuels. Why “can”?
Head of Bioenergy Team
DG ENER C
That was the question at the centre of negotiations on the Renewable Energy Directive. The measures you’ve just mentioned are about increasing the overall target, introducing sector targets to double the deployment of renewable energy compared to 2020, and deciding when bioenergy can be sustainable and be a solution in the transition to renewables.
We know that bioenergy use is projected to increase, which raises the question of its sustainability. The Commission proposed a targeted strengthening of the sustainability criteria. The Council’s position was largely the same. The European Parliament went further and suggested a cap on the incentives provided by the Renewable Energy Directive, in particular for woody biomass, which accounts for the bulk of bioenergy in Europe.
Member states were critical of this, saying that in an energy crisis we need to rely on domestic resources that are renewable. The Parliament’s cap therefore did not make it into the final agreement. However, we widened the scope of the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions criteria applied to a larger set of installations. So, for example, we now cover some 90% of the solid biomass fuels used in installations, and we’re now asking existing biomass fuels installations to comply with greenhouse gas emissions criteria. The criteria are being phased in depending on the type of installation, its size and when it started operating.
We also set limits based on where the biomass comes from. This extended to so-called no-go areas that apply to agricultural biomass and to forest biomass. So if you source forest biomass from highly biodiverse areas such as primary or old growth forests you can’t count them towards your renewable energy targets.
In addition, member states are required to take a more strategic forward-looking approach to their projections and energy system plans. They are required to assess the availability of sustainable biomass and compare that supply with the projected use of forest biomass for energy and with their obligations under LULUCF. Their national energy and climate plans should also include measures that ensure such compatibility, and they’re required to provide biannual progress reports on those measures.
The directive also enshrines the principle of the cascading use of biomass, meaning that you use the biomass where it has the most economically environmental added value. We have a booming bioeconomy and solutions coming to market for the use of biomass in cosmetics, packaging, composites. We need to make sure that the incentives in RED III don’t distort competition with sectors that provide for material uses of the biomass.
The directive prohibits direct financial support for the use of quality wood that is suitable for industrial uses. The use of that kind of feedstock for energy should not benefit from direct financial support. Member States will also have to phase out the support for electricity produced from forest biomass in installations that only produce power – there’s no combined heat and power.
Overall, the directive reflects the fact that biomass is an important domestic resource. We’re also not imposing a one-size-fits-all policy. You cannot compare a forest in Sweden with a forest in Portugal. So when sustainability criteria is, for example, related to harvesting dead wood in the forest, we respect local conditions. Additionally, it’s up to the member states to assess whether their harvesting of forest biomass is compliant with their obligations under LULUCF. They need to think about whether we will have enough biomass in the future.
I know some people feel that the outcome doesn’t provide sufficiently strong safeguards for sustainability. But we did achieve a targeted strengthening. There are derogations and phasing-in periods, but we have a direction of travel for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The timing of the negotiations – in the middle of an energy crisis – played a role.
From an energy and climate perspective, was the outcome viewed as positive? It was a compromise, in the end, that cleared the way for bioenergy to continue to play its role in achieving climate targets.
Yes, bioenergy remains within the panoply of ways to decarbonise the energy system. With an effective implementation of these rules, we will make progress. Now I would call on stakeholders to proactively implement the criteria.
Andrew, what does this compromise mean for a company like Enviva? Can you tell us a bit more about Enviva. What are the opportunities for bioenergy to grow in energy systems?
Head of Regulation and Policy Europe
The compromise is a measured approach, and very welcome. The fact that woody biomass will continue to be recognised as a fully renewable energy source in the EU is a win for science-based policymaking, in my eyes.
Some of the new rules on certain subsidies – such as around cascading – will be challenging for member states to implement practically, as suggested by research. The woody biomass sector already operates with an incredibly strong cascading market, so the principle is largely being followed.
The sustainability criteria updates were very much in line with the recommendations made by the Joint Research Commission, for example on the no-go areas, on retention thresholds for deadwood, and the policy mechanism to match up LULUCF with biomass use.
The Commission’s impact assessment before the reopening of RED III shows that bioenergy will need to grow by an average of 67% across different uses to meet the 2050 targets. The job now is to focus on mobilising that bioenergy to achieve those goals. Regulatory certainty will be key here.
Could you explain the products you’re importing and their uses? Can you profile your business for us?
Enviva is one of the world’s largest providers of sustainably sourced wood pellets, sourced from working forests in the southeast US, one of the largest forest areas in the world.
These forests produce around a fifth of the world’s industrial wood products, creating what would otherwise be unused wood fibre that can be pelletised and used in Europe to displace fossil fuels. Our pellets are mostly used in the production of heat and power. But biomass is a uniquely versatile renewable energy source and our customer base is evolving as the climate targets increase and begin to cover more industries.
Woody biomass can play an important role as a low-cost source of renewable dispatchable power and heat. Heat for industries like steel and lime. It can also be used in the production of advanced biofuels for aviation and shipping. From capturing and storing biogenic carbon, we can get to a negative emissions perspective.
You said you’re supplying a product that helps displace fossil fuels. What would life look like for your company without the transition?
If there was no need for an energy transition, the world would probably still be using fossil fuels, much like the rationale for rolling out solar technologies would not exist if we didn’t have the urgent need to solve the climate crisis.
So this categorisation as a renewable source is key?
Absolutely. But the fact that it is considered a renewable source is also in line with findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reviews by the IEA, the JRC, etc.
Biomass is also an important renewable source for the security of supply, because it’s overwhelmingly sourced in Europe or from reliable allies like ourselves in the US, or other companies in Canada. It has the ability to provide dispatchable, on-demand power and heat, whether you’re a large industry or it’s a district heating network.
Irene – as Katja said, it’s renewable, but it’s scarce. So we have to be cautious, but there is growth to be expected.
Irene di Padua
We are the European Association for the Bioenergy Sector.
When we talk about energy, most people think of electricity. But as you can see from this graph, most of the energy we consume is heat, followed by power and transport. And most of the energy we consume is still power from fossil fuels. Bioenergy therefore plays a role too, saving 160 MtCO2eq in the heating sector in 2019. But there is room for improvement.
The vast majority of bioenergy comes from woody biomass. But this is not the full picture of the sector; there is also agricultural residues and agricultural biomass, and waste. There is potential for agricultural biomass in particular. So we do see an increase in bioenergy in general, but also we see a differentiation in the type of biomass feedstock.
There will be a shift in the allocation of the type of energy, because we expect power to play a much bigger role, especially with the electrification of transport. We see different solutions coexisting, such as photovoltaic hydropower, biomass for heat, biomass for industrial processes, solar thermal pumps, etc.
Out to 2050, we see bioenergy evolving to be applied in different sectors.
Bioenergy is not just renewable, it’s also versatile and readily available. It can be combined well with intermittent energy solutions, because it’s always available.
Here you can see a comparison between the inland consumption of different solutions. Biomass is mostly sourced locally – 96% of what Europe uses is produced in Europe. Most of the equipment, the manufacturers and component manufacturers, are based in Europe. So it’s a really European sector, a European-made solution. We see projections that say bioenergy will double or triple in a sustainable way out to 2050.
My question is why don’t we apply the same level of sustainability scrutiny and accountability to fossil fuel energy?
Simon – talk to us about CCS.
Independent CS expert
I’m going to be talking about BECCS – bioenergy and CCS.
I work on carbon management and carbon markets. We support companies in compliance markets – EU ETS, and the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). A lot of new things are happening in compliance carbon markets. We also work on carbon removal and climate neutrality issues, specifically engineered removals.
We are based in Berlin, in Germany and there’s a big discussion about the German carbon management strategy being developed. We will not reach the European or German climate targets without BECCS, without the capture of biogenic emissions.
We carried out a study for the Canadian Embassy this year analysing the German CCS market. We found that CCS will have to play a big part in Germany’s pathway to net zero up to 2045, based on the five main studies published. A lot of the emissions that need to be captured come from fossil fuels – they account for five to 10 million tonnes by 2045. But most of the emissions that need to be captured are biogenic. That’s 30-70 million tonnes of CO2, or around 10% of German emissions. It’s a huge amount.
The same is true for other countries. It’s particularly big in Germany because it’s a big industrial player.
Germany’s carbon management strategy is not out yet, but it will essentially prohibit emissions capture in the electricity sector. The sector is covered by the EU ETS and has its own tool for reducing emissions. Germany is taking the view that capture should be used for industrial emissions, for example cement, lime, maybe steel.
But nearly 50% of emissions that can and need to be captured are from waste incineration. Around half of these emissions are of biogenic origin. That means we have around 10 million tonnes of biogenic emissions from waste-to-energy plants that need to be captured in order for us to reach net zero.
There are many ways in which to use biomass in different sectors. What do we do with emissions from those different biomass applications?
I’ll tell you about three projects where biomass emissions in Germany are being captured and used elsewhere.
One – a methanol synthesis project using CO2 from a residual waste treatment plant. So the CO2 is captured at a waste-to-energy plant and used to make methanol.
Two – CO2 capture during the process of biogas purification. This is very standard, the project looks to ship the CO2 elsewhere, where it can be stored underground.
Three – carbon dioxide removal, or a net-negative emissions project. Here CO2 is captured during biowaste digestion and being used in the mineralisation in concrete recycling.
My takeaways: BECCS will be necessary for Germany to reach its climate targets. In the EU, biomass applications are very diverse and there are possibilities to capture and use CO2 or store it underground.
The important question, on the policy side, is how to incentivise the capture of biogenic emissions. I don’t have a clear cut answer to this, but there is a role for the EU ETS to play there, especially in relation to the EU’s Carbon Removal Certification Framework, for which methodologies and standards are now being discussed.
Irene, you said that there is more scrutiny of this sector than of fossil fuels. Can you expand on that, where is the scrutiny?
Irene di Padua
We are happy to have sustainability criteria, because it’s important that biomass is sourced sustainably.
But we see that fossil fuels still receive more subsidies per unit of energy produced than biomass does. We don’t have a clear strategy for getting rid of fossil fuels, which would benefit bioenergy as well as renewables.
Approximately 70% of power still comes from fossil fuels. We need a life cycle assessment of emissions from fossil fuels, because they have been stored for thousands or millions of years underground, and now we’re depleting them.
There is a strong difference between fossil fuel emissions and biogenic emissions because, yes, trees capture the carbon, but the carbon would be released anyway – whether or not you use it to get rid of fossil fuels.
There’s a missing connection between the wood harvest and the production of bioenergy, because wood is not invested in for energy. Economically it doesn’t make sense, environmentally it doesn’t make sense. Wood is invested in for many other purposes, to build high quality material for furniture, buildings, pulp and paper, etc. But then about half of what is used becomes residue, and that’s used for bioenergy.
The bioenergy sector is well-placed in terms of climate neutrality, and has an opportunity to add CCS and get to negative emissions.
As Katja said, it’s renewable but it’s scarce, and that’s why it’s getting so much scrutiny. But it’s not about its role in the energy system.
Katja, what do you think? Irene has a point, it’s got the green light yet it’s being given a very hard time, so it’s difficult for the sector to grow. It’s being unfairly held back, or unfairly criticised, or monitored, or scrutinised, while fossil fuels are enjoying greater subsidies.
60% of renewable energy consumed in Europe today comes from bioenergy, and there is an energy security of supply dimension.
But the caution is not only about the environment and biodiversity, it’s also about the climate. We need to be very careful in how we talk about climate neutrality. The IPCC does not say that this is automatically climate neutral. There are a number of conditions that need to be fulfilled for it to be climate neutral.
However, it is a sovereign decision for the member states to deal with. The Renewable Energy Directive tries to ensure that bioenergy is not treated in a silo that only looks at energy and the beautiful things that bioenergy can bring. It has to be seen in the context of other policies and the climate objectives.
It’s true that when energy companies use biomass they don’t need to surrender ETS allowances, but this is accounted for in the land use sector. There’s no free lunch, somebody pays.
Someone said that we don’t have an exit strategy for fossil fuels, but we have a Green Deal, and we have a REPower EU. We are very much aiming to decarbonise our energy systems. You can compare bioenergy with fossil fuels, but you can also compare both the climate and environment impacts, and the economic competitiveness of bioenergy, with other emerging technologies and strategies, such as heat pumps, waste heat, geothermal and hydrogen.
As Enviva stresses, biomass needs to be used where it brings a unique, important contribution, like high-temperature heat or advanced aviation fuel.
So in actual fact, the carbon impacts are counted elsewhere, in LULUCF land use policies.
Andrew, please come back on that point, and let’s move onto usage.
The IPCC says that you need rules in place before you can talk about biomass as a carbon neutral, low-carbon source.
Regarding the resource and scarcity issues, we use around 5 gigajoules a day of bioenergy from different sources. If you look at studies by the IEA, IPCC, the Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency, they apply strong sustainability filters to their models and show quite a broad availability of biomass.
So if you assume that the EU can take a portion of that biomass, you have the ability to sustainably increase the bioenergy used in the EU by more than three times.
The Commission’s modelling uses a requirement far below that. So now we have world-leading sustainability criteria, and according to the Commission’s modelling we need to increase biomass by 67-70%. How do we mobilise the biomass within that sustainability framework? It’s important to recognise that it will have a role in all of those sectors, and that holding biomass back doesn’t necessarily bring the other energy sources online. They will need their own policies.
Woody biomass can help those technologies increasingly come online. You need to integrate intermittent renewables. Biomass can provide stability. It’s less of a competition, more of a partnership.
Do you agree with Katja about where it should be used, Andrew? Where is Enviva likely to grow? What would be the best outcome for the sector, for the energy climate targets, and for the stability of the system?
There’s a lot of scope for growth for woody biomass.
High-temperature heat industries are now facing a rising carbon price and falling amount of free allowances in the EU ETS’s high-temperature heat industries. Biomass can be a renewable energy source that displaces the coal used in these facilities, as it has done in the traditional power and heat sectors.
I also see growth in aviation and shipping fuel. The EU mandates sustainable aviation and maritime fuels, so we can gasify woody biomass to produce that fuel.
We also have infrastructure in the EU that is already producing power and heat from biomass, and we should take advantage of it for large-scale facilities. We can apply CCS to create negative emissions. It’s around 30% cheaper to retrofit CCS to an existing biomass plant than to build it from the ground up.
It’s right that we carefully consider where biomass is used, but we must recognise that it needs to be used across the piece. It’s not about solving the whole question, but making a contribution in each of those spaces.
Simon, what needs to happen in terms of incentives to build BECCS? You said the ETS might need to come into play. What would make it attractive? Who is going to pay for it, and who will benefit?
The issue is where does the biomass that’s being used for BECCS come from? Is it a waste-to-energy plant where municipal waste is burned anyway?
There are so many different ways to account for it, and the same is true for keeping and increasing the forestry area and sinks. These are all regulated under different regulations. Where member states have their own targets, the question becomes who pays? Because LULUCF emissions are not paid for by a private actor, but by the member states not meeting their non-ETS targets.
Incentives could come in two ways. One, which we will probably see from the 2030s, is that the EU ETS includes carbon removal. Because from 2039 allowances will no longer be issued, but I doubt that industries will have decarbonised or have zero fossil fuel emissions. So externally accredited removal credits could be allowed in the ETS.
Two, there are voluntary carbon markets in some countries where companies run a waste-to-energy plant and then capture the CO2 emission and put them underground. They are able to monetise those negative emissions by selling them on the voluntary carbon market as an additional thing not being targeted by EU regulation – for example, to Microsoft or Apple to offset their emissions.
There are questions about how that market works, if it’s a good market, and what the quality criteria for carbon removal credits should be.
Irene, in your 2040 chart the growth across bioenergy is significant. To what extent is CCS an enabler for that growth? Is it built into those numbers?
Irene di Padua
I don’t think it’s an enabler in itself; we foresee a growth of the sector regardless of the use of CCS or CCU. It can be a win-win though, if we combine bioenergy production with CCS, because we go carbon negative for industries that can’t just decarbonise with renewable energy.
More projects are coming up in Europe, but the US is more advanced in the use of BECCS. We’re happy to see that there’s now a Carbon Removal Certification Framework proposal, it’s a first step in making sure there will be economic value in carbon removal – not just environmental value.
Andrew, with or without CCS it has to grow. Katja said there has to be BECCS. That’s not connected to your emissions but the system as a whole. Do they have to grow hand in hand?
They do. The European Scientific Climate Advisory Board’s study on 2040 targets found something in the region of a billion tonnes of residual growth emissions from industry which could not be decarbonised. So we will need negative emissions to balance that out.
There are a range of solutions there, but the board still saw bioenergy and CCS being needed to produce 70 to 336 million tonnes of CO2 removals a year by 2050 to balance residual emissions.
So while CCS is not necessary for the growth of biomass, it is necessary to reach our climate targets.
I’m encouraged by the progress in a number of member states. Denmark brought forward a project with government support that will store around 430,000 tonnes a year of negative emissions. Sweden has a project that I think is supported in part by European Commission funding to produce around 800,000 tonnes of negative emissions a year. The Netherlands is working on its own negative emissions action plan.
Katja, is CCS going to be incentivised? What are the Commission’s thoughts on this?
It’s clear that there are emissions associated with bioenergy. I agree that there will be sectors that will be difficult to decarbonise and will require carbon capture and storage. This is why the European Commission is preparing a CCS strategy, and working on the carbon removal certification.
We have to be careful about saying that CCS will be an enabler of bioenergy growth. We need CCS to achieve targets because there will be leftover emissions, but it should not take away from efforts to reduce emissions in the first place. Although CCS is important, as I understand it on smaller installations it’s not an economically viable solution.
Katja, REPowerEU was the biggest policy package we got last year. Eighteen months on, how are we doing? What is the significance of bioenergy in it?
Eighteen months is not a very long period. Around 60% of renewable energy is still bioenergy. In REPowerEU the main measure for bioenergy is the promotion of biomethane, purified biogas that can replace natural gas in the grid.
We’re zooming in on biomethane, with the ambition of doubling production to 35 billion cubic metres of production. REPowerEU, is also very much aimed at mobilising agricultural waste and residues.
There seems to be untapped potential with waste and residues that we should mobilise, because there are certain countries where they could replace natural gas by more than 10-15%. There’s an industrial partnership on biomethane being implemented.
Irene, any questions in the chat you would like to respond to?
Irene di Padua
We’ve focused a lot on woody biomass, because this provides the vast majority of energy use. But we see potential for agricultural biomass too, from residues, from agricultural production, and byproducts, and there is a huge potential for using abandoned land to produce bioenergy.
This last summer was a very good example of why we do sustainable forest management, and consequently bioenergy, because of the wildfire season. I’m from Italy. Italy, Spain, Greece and other southern European countries were deeply affected by wildfires. This is exactly why we need to take out a sustainable portion of residues from the forest, and these residues can be used for a few things including sustainable bioenergy. There are increasing synergies as well.
Forests are changing with climate change. They are less resilient to the new temperature, the new species. Forests do not have time to recover and regrow. That’s why we need management, and it doesn’t mean cutting down forests.
I’m not advocating burning biomass and capturing the CO2. If it is being burned, it has to be captured to bring Europe or Germany to climate neutrality. Biomass is better suited for areas other than producing electricity. There are many solutions for low-temperature operations, but for high-temperature and maybe industrial operations, it can play a big role, especially in liquid fuels.
It’s important to have a coherent framework on the pricing of emissions, no matter if they are biogenic emissions or fossil fuel emissions. You could count them as neutral, but only if the trees are built up again during that time. The polluter pays principle is not really working here: there should be a more coherent framework.
We now have a revised directive. The discussion will continue, but in the meantime, we have to live with what we have. Implementation and enforcement are important. The rules can be enforced without waiting for the transposition deadline to lapse. There needs to be more trust building.
There should be an understanding that a biogenic emission is different from a fossil fuel emission. One is buried in the ground for thousands of years, dug up and pumped into the atmosphere, whereas a biomass emission is part of a natural cycle. It’s not just about the regrowth of the forest.
It’s also important to remember that the RED ensures that you source biomass from areas where carbon stocks and sink levels are maintained or being strengthened. So it’s not just about the promise of future trees but about the forest’s overall carbon storage.
Three last quick things to say. One, biomass is indispensable to meeting our climate goals. Two, biomass is available in a sustainable manner. Three, to achieve these things, we need regulatory stability.
Summary compiled by Sara Stefanini
Produced by Energy Post