The Bioenergy Sustainability Policy Review in the Renewable Energy Directive

The efficient use of biomass in different energy applications is an essential part of the current climate mitigation strategy that has been proposed by the European Union. The EU plans to halve its greenhouse emissions and reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the next decade.

Timing is Key

There is an urgent need for reducing cost compliance if the set goals are to be realized.

The best way to go about this is to have a phasing in the requirements. There should be no retroactive changes that can disrupt the current investments.

To ensure a balanced and successful bioenergy sustainability framework, the following changes need to be made:

  1. The support for installations that produce electricity from forest biomass should be maintained. This should possibly go on until 2030 after which special schemes can then be established if need be. This can be done to promote biomass electricity production in areas where there is a risk of re-carbonization.
  2. Member states should ensure that they avoid any unnecessary distortions in the raw material markets. A regulation that has been set in place by the EU can be beneficial in preventing such distortions from happening. However, individual states can take it upon themselves to come up with policies that ensure the smooth running of their raw material markets.
  3. Lowering the exemption threshold for biomass. It is important to lower the current threshold from 20 MW to 10 MW to sustain a larger portion of the biomass. This will also avoid placing regulatory burdens and inappropriate costs on small actors because they have little administrative capacity.
  4. Establishment of no-gas areas for carbon-rich and biodiverse environments. It is also important to make the definitions of these areas clear to avoid the ambiguity that we see with the current classifications.
  5. Forestry should remain the competence of member states. The EU should avoid covering the specifics of forest management and leave that to member states. This is key to achieving the necessary objectives of improving soil quality and minimizing biodiversity.
  6. Finally, it is imperative that there be no retroactive application of measures.

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