Highlights Core Theme 4: Biomass Mobilisation and Sustainability

CT4 - 3rd Plenary Meeting in Warsaw

Headline 1: Biomass Trade inside the EU. The Role of Biomass Exchange Platforms

CT4 participants explored the concept of biomass exchange platforms and whether their development could lead to more efficient local biomass markets and biomass trade inside EU and thus consequently could help Member States to reach their renewable energy targets. Lithuania recently introduced a regulation on biomass exchange in order to improve their local markets for bioenergy. A representative from BALTPOOL, the company in charge of the exchange platform (https://www.baltpool.eu/en/), presented the system and explained how the platform improves local bioenergy markets by reducing bioenergy prices, fostering the emergence of new market players and the introduction of product standards. Not only did the platform improve the transparency of the market, it also reduced fragmentation. Platforms of this kind can also integrate sustainability criteria, facilitating the purchase of sustainable biomass by market participants. In conclusion, participants discussed the potential of replication in other Member States and the possibility to make use of such platforms not only for domestic trade, but also for biomass trade across Member States.

Headline 2: Cascading Use of Solid Biomass. State-of-Play in MS and Role of Sustainability Schemes

Sustainability of the sourcing of biomass is a requirement for the current acceptance of bioenergy. The concerns related to this issue go way beyond the cultivation and collection of biomass and also touches upon how bioenergy has an impact on the material use of biomass. As a result of these concerns, many countries are discussing the pros and cons of cascading with a regard to sustainability considerations. Many participating Member States highlighted the difficulties with this issue in a view to the implementation of the current Renewable Energy Directive. Cascading use of biomass encompasses not only the energy sector, but also agriculture, industry and waste sectors. In addition, there is no common definition, since cascading use depends on (environmental/economic) policy goals, local conditions, project-based approaches and biomass feedstocks, among others.  

A guest speaker, who recently reviewed current national sustainability requirements and criteria for solid biomass (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bbb.1822/full), gave an overview of the framework used today to secure sustainability in several Member States. The European Commission presented a state-of-play of EU bioenergy sustainability policy and the ongoing initiative on a “guidance on cascading use” to be published at the end of 2018. Input from MS for this project is welcomed.

In conclusion, participants discussed the status quo of the state-of-play regarding biomass cascading criteria in order to help improve harmonisation of criteria and reporting requirements, both which are vital for the sustainable mobilisation of bioenergy for the future. Participants came to the conclusion that market-driven cascading – based on price difference – is already effective, but that support mechanisms must be adapted to avoid distortion on the biomass feedstock markets.

Headline 3: Optimising the Use of Biomethane. Current Issues and Policy Trends in MS

The production of biogas out of mostly wet biomass materials is the most effective way to produce energy out of these materials and could therefore be a major strategy in mobilisation of the biomass streams with limited other potential use. Conversion of this biogas into biomethane, for grid injection or direct use in transport is currently one of the most promising options selected in several Member States. Though the injection of biomethane into the national grid is low, an increase in the short-term is foreseen in a number of Member States. Representatives of France and Italy, in which the injection of biomethane into the grid actively supported or planned for the coming years, gave a short presentation on their national policies. Adaptations to support schemes are ongoing in several Member States either for injection into natural gas grids or for use in the transport sector or in high efficiency CHP plants. Afterwards, CT4 participants discussed both the advantages and disadvantages with a view towards discovering best practices and most efficient options regarding GHG savings.

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