Image

Wood-energy sector worried by EU biomass plans

8 December 2022
European Parliament plans to exclude some types of primary wood from the EU’s renewable energy goals is causing jitters among the industry, which points to bioenergy as an essential part of the EU’s energy security.

Biomass currently makes up 60% of all European renewable energy, with the heating and cooling sector the largest end-user, according to EU statistics. Following a July 2021 proposal from the European Commission to revise the renewable energy directive, the Parliament adopted its position in September which aims at limiting the amount of biomass that can be burned.

This is achieved through the exclusion of certain types of ‘primary woody biomass’ from what is considered renewable energy, as well as through a cap on its usage. The Parliament’s proposal to exclude some primary woody biomass from the directive has proven controversial, with some governments concerned it could jeopardise energy security.

“The real challenge that we are facing within the next two to three years is actually to address energy security, and basically keeping ourselves warm and our industries afloat,” said Pauline Lucas, policy director at Euroheat and Power, the international network for district energy.

This calls for the use of “all sustainable heating sources that we have at hand” – including woody biomass, she told participants at a EURACTIV event on Thursday (1 December).

Bioenergy represents 20% of the energy mix in district heating across the EU. And according to Lucas, biomass will remain an important resource to decarbonise the heating sector, phase out fossil fuels, and recover wood residues that cannot be used for other purposes.

Limiting its use “could really worsen the decarbonisation pathway of our sector,” Lucas warned, saying it risked driving the market away from district heating. “In terms of the value chain, this could have quite far-reaching consequences,” she added.

Biomass crowding out investments in wind, solar

Bioenergy has been criticised by environmental groups who say burning wood drives deforestation, destroys natural habitats, and undermines forests acting as carbon sinks in the fight against climate change. According to them, policymakers should stop encouraging the burning of primary wood by excluding it from the EU’s renewable energy targets.

“I really wonder how you can decarbonise anything by burning wood,” said Martin Pigeon from FERN, an international NGO campaigning to protect forests. For an equal amount of heat or electricity, burning wood releases more CO2 than burning gas, oil and even coal, Pigeon highlighted, saying that the forestry industry is “contributing to massive degradation of the land sink”.

“When we hear about net-zero, the net is just forests. When you talk about land, it’s the second biggest sink we have after the oceans,” he explained. Pigeon also remarked that the possibility to count biomass as renewable energy allows some EU countries like Hungary to reach their renewable energy targets mostly thanks to bioenergy, thus delaying investments in wind and solar.

“What is the signal that the EU wants to send investors about the future of its energy? Is it burning wood again, like we’ve done for one million years already? Or do we want something that’s actually cleaner and that is not done at the expense of our health, at the expense of forests, and of our future?” he asked.

More >>

Read More
Image

Earlybird rates end TODAY

Earlybird rates end this Friday for Environmental Forestry Conference On 25-26 June, ourFIEA Annual Environmental Forestry Conference is running. Registrations are going very well. We bring practical foresters together with local regulators and national policy-makers to debate and bring constructive ...
Read more
Image

Decarbonising transport & logistics

New Zealand environmental specialist, Toitū, recently held a panel to discuss how New Zealand’s transportation and logistics industry, the nation’s second-largest emissions source, can take effective climate action. They shed light on the critical pressures facing supply chains and how to respond ...
Read more
Image

FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest ...
Read more
Image

Calling all NZ loader operators – be part of this study

Driven by mechanisation, traditional career pathways in forestry crews are evolving. As part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, ‘Te Mahi Ngahere i te Ao Hurihuri – Forestry Work in the Modern Age’, the Scion Human Factors research group ...
Read more
Image

Kiwi bird surprises at Rosvall Sawmill

Workers at Rosvall Sawmill near Whangārei, New Zealand, had an unexpected visitor, a fully grown kiwi bird. The bird casually strolled into the mill early one Monday morning, and spent a few hours exploring the premises before it found a ...
Read more
Image

Every second counts

During hot and dry periods, there is a serious risk of wildfires. Moreover, a single spark can be enough to start one, in which case every second counts. Having fire extinguishing equipment close at hand can make all the difference ...
Read more
Image

Superhuman AI – smarter than every human by 2025

Billionaire tech boss Elon Musk has recently predicted that superhuman artificial intelligence (AI), surpassing human intellect, could become a reality as soon as next year. If this kind of prediction becomes true, are humans ready to embrace that machines can ...
Read more
Image

Swiss develop drone to explore forest canopy

Inspired by cockroaches, Swiss researchers have developed a new drone which can push away obstacles and move past them. In the future, it will be used to measure biodiversity in remote areas. Environmental monitoring in areas with dense vegetation is ...
Read more
Image

NZ forestry H&S statistics updated – March 2024

Safetree NZ has released their H&S stats dashboard for March 2024. WorkSafe provides statistics on forestry fatalities and workplace incidents. These investigations help inform us of any key issues or trends as they come to light. Overall, there is a downward trend ...
Read more