Steps to Improve on EU’s Foreign Climate Policies

The European Union (EU) has a significant role in leading the worldwide shift towards addressing climate change. To achieve this goal, the EU needs a solid mandate for its climate foreign policy that takes into account the current multi-crisis situation. The EU can establish this mandate at the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in February, which has the following objectives:

  1. Establish global agreement on ending the use of fossil fuels, with the EU taking a leading role in implementing it domestically.
  2. Mobilize EU and international finances to support countries affected by the global energy, food, and economic crisis.
  3. Use EU industrial and trade policies, and diplomatic efforts, to encourage other major carbon emitters to speed up their own decarbonization efforts.

The EU has already taken a step in the right direction by calling for a worldwide coal phase-out at the 2021 FAC meeting, which paved the way for a global agreement on reducing the use of coal at the COP26 conference. The upcoming February FAC meeting must build on this success and maintain the EU’s leadership position in the transition to a green economy. This year’s climate diplomacy FAC will take place in a more complex environment due to the Russian war in Ukraine and the pressure on global energy and food markets.

The EU’s mandate at the FAC meeting should aim to:

  • Encourage a full global commitment to phase out fossil fuels and accelerate the phase-out of coal.
  • Push for reforms that increase access to finance for developing countries to transition to a green economy.
  • Provide incentives for other major carbon emitters to hasten their own transitions through the use of industrial and trade policies.

By demonstrating its own commitment to the green transition, the EU can inspire a global consensus to end the use of fossil fuels. However, the EU’s recent efforts to replace Russian fossil fuel imports with alternative sources have tightened global gas markets and risk being misinterpreted as a return to coal. A clear mandate for the green transition would show the EU’s commitment to its own climate targets, demonstrate how it is phasing out fossil fuels, and aim to drive a global phase-out of fossil fuels.

The EU can also signal its support for climate-vulnerable countries by mobilizing transition and impact response finance for developing countries. This can be achieved by supporting innovative mechanisms and reforms to multilateral financial institutions that help these countries deal with the impacts of climate change and high debt levels. The EU can also promote Just Energy Transition Partnerships, mobilize finance for adaptation and loss and damage, and work towards broader financial system reforms.

By taking a new approach to diplomatic engagement with other major carbon emitters, the EU can encourage these countries to make their own commitments. The EU can lead by example by setting its own ambitious targets for 2035/2040 NDCs and use its Green Deal diplomacy to incentivize other major emitters to take action. The EU can maximize its diplomatic impact by working together with developing countries to overcome political and economic hurdles.

In 2023, the EU should set the following key targets for its climate and energy diplomacy:

  • A global fossil fuel phase-out mandate and progress towards phasing out coal globally.
  • Financing for the global transition to a green economy and responding to the impacts of climate change.

Original article

Biomass Policies in Germany, The Netherlands and France

European countries have been increasingly adopting renewable energy policies to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass has gained significant attention, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, and France.

Germany has been a leader in the production and consumption of biomass. The country has a well-established wood processing industry, which provides a solid base for the production of wood chips and pellets, which are used as biofuels. The German government has implemented various policies to support the growth of the biomass sector, including tax incentives and subsidies for the production and use of biomass. Additionally, Germany has set a target to increase its renewable energy share to 80% by 2050, with a significant portion of this target being met through the use of biomass.

The Netherlands, like Germany, has a strong wood processing industry and is a leading producer of wood pellets. The government has implemented policies aimed at increasing the use of biomass in the country, including tax incentives and subsidies for the production and use of biomass. The Netherlands has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, with the use of biomass playing a crucial role in achieving this target.

France has also been actively promoting the use of biomass as a source of renewable energy. The government has implemented various measures to support the growth of the biomass sector, including subsidies for the production and use of biomass. France has set a target to increase its share of renewable energy to 40% by 2030, with the use of biomass expected to play a significant role in achieving this target.

In conclusion, Germany, the Netherlands, and France are among the leading European countries in the promotion and adoption of biomass as a source of renewable energy. The governments of these countries have implemented various policies aimed at supporting the growth of the biomass sector, with the aim of reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and achieving their renewable energy targets.

What’s new with Germany’s Renewable Energy Scheme?

The revision of a German program to encourage the production of power from renewable energy sources has been authorized by the European Commission in accordance with EU State Aid regulations. The program reflects a recent revision to Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (also known as “EEG 2023”) and will help the country meet its energy and environmental goals as well as the EU’s strategic goals for the European Green Deal.

Germany informed the Commission of its proposals to extend and change its renewable energy assistance program, largely replacing the current support provided under the EEG 2021 program, which the Commission approved in April 2021 (SA.57779) and updated in December 2021 (SA.64376) and September 2022. (SA.102303). The modified program will be in effect through the end of 2026.

With a total budget of €28 billion, the EEG 2023 support program seeks to produce 80% of the power it consumes from renewable sources by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.

According to the plan, the assistance will often come in the form of a market premium that the network operator pays the producer in addition to the market price for the electricity. The aid will, however, come in the form of feed-in tariffs for relatively tiny installations. Through competitive, open, and nondiscriminatory bidding processes, beneficiaries will be chosen.

There will be separate tenders for each technology. The volume and quantity of innovative bids, as well as those for rooftop and ground-based solar photovoltaic, onshore wind, and biomethane, will both rise in Germany.

The amendments are:

To increase competition, further reduce the possibility of overcompensation, and keep costs down for customers and taxpayers, tender procedures are improved. In particular, the plan adds an efficient volume control mechanism for innovation, solar photovoltaic, and biomethane tenders on top of the existing safeguards for onshore wind and biomass. In order to prevent undersubscription, a mechanism exists that enables adjusting the volumes offered for each technology.

To deal with Germany’s grid congestion problems, a new temporary solution is presented. In order to address the higher costs of deploying renewable energy in the region and ensure that projects are developed where more electricity consumption occurs, regional measures will promote the development of electricity production from onshore wind, biomass, and biomethane in the South of Germany.

In order to avoid overcompensating producers, Germany will totally phase out its support for the production of renewable electricity during periods of negative pricing (i.e., when demand declines and prices rise) as of 1 January 2027.

The Commission evaluated the German program’s amendment in accordance with EU State Aid regulations, including the CEEAG 2022 Guidelines on State Aid for Climate, Environmental Protection, and Energy.

The European Commission’s findings:

In order to encourage the creation of renewable energy sources and lower greenhouse gas emissions, the plan is acceptable and required. Additionally, the plan improves grid stability.

The scheme’s good environmental advantages outweigh its negative implications in terms of competition distortions, making the aid appropriate since it is confined to the bare minimum required. In specifically, a premium based on the lowest bids in an open and transparent bidding process is used to provide the help. In order to guarantee that the tenders are competitive, the tenders also incorporate an adequate volume control mechanism for all technologies. Additionally, the assistance is capped at a sum determined by the funding gap, which is the sum required to construct initiatives. In the future, market signals will be less distorted because support during periods of low prices will be taken out.

Germany has created a comprehensive strategy for the independent economic evaluation of the EEG 2023 in accordance with the evaluation requirement envisioned by the CEEAG. Germany has also committed to improving data collection and the application of empirical methodology in this regard.

In accordance with EU State Aid regulations, the Commission accepted the change of the German plan on this basis.

Amendments to a German program (German Offshore Wind Energy Act – “WindSeeG”) to boost offshore wind energy generation in Germany have been authorized by the European Commission in accordance with EU State Aid regulations. The program supports the German Renewable Energy Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz, or “EEG 2023”) and will help the EU achieve its strategic goals for the European Green Deal as well as Germany’s energy and environmental goals.

Germany informed the Commission of its intention to modify the current WindSeeG program in order to advance offshore wind energy production in Germany. The initial plan was approved by the Commission on July 23, 2014 (SA.38632), and it was repeatedly extended and changed until it was finally updated in 2021 (SA.57610), all in accordance with the 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Climate, Environmental Protection, and Energy.

An increase in the expansion goals for offshore wind energy plants’ installed capacity from 20 GW to at least 30 GW by 2030, at least 40 GW by 2035, and at least 70 GW by 2040;


In the German Exclusive Economic Zone (‘EEZ’), there is a new tender process for a different kind of site that allows offshore wind electricity companies to bid for locations that have not been centrally pre-investigated by the German government. Germany hopes to accelerate and enhance offshore wind development with this new approach.


A dynamic bidding process that will enable Germany to distinguish and choose amongst numerous bids with a bid value of zero for tenders for non-centrally pre-investigated sites.

The Commission evaluated the modified plan in accordance with EU State Aid regulations, including the CEEAG Guidelines for State Aid for Climate, Environmental Protection, and Energy (effective January 2022).

In order to encourage the use of renewable energy sources and lower greenhouse gas emissions, the Commission determined that the measure is still necessary and appropriate.

The Commission also discovered that the assistance is reasonable and kept to a minimum. The Commission also concluded that the scheme’s benefits, particularly those related to the environment, outweigh any potential drawbacks in the form of competitive distortions. The aid is specifically given as a premium over the market price of power, based on the lowest offers in an open and transparent bidding process. The amount of assistance is capped at a level determined by the funding gap, which is the sum required to build initiatives.

Germany has created a comprehensive strategy for the independent economic evaluation of the program in accordance with the evaluation requirement envisioned by the CEEAG and has committed to improving data collection and the use of empirical approaches in this regard.

In accordance with EU State Aid regulations, the Commission approved the modified German program on this basis.

Based on two press releases by European Commission titled “State aid: Commission approves modification of German scheme to support electricity production from renewable energy sources” and State aid: Commission approves amendments to German scheme to support offshore wind energy generation both of which were released on December 21, 2022

The US Inflation Reduction Act in Detail

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the single most important measure ever taken to lessen climate change’s effects in the US. The federal government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to mobilize industrial and economic policies in favor of clean energy and to hasten the decarbonization of the entire economy.

However, President Biden’s proclamation of this law’s passage is just the beginning. Many of the IRA’s most innovative initiatives are far from prescriptive in their interpretation, and now it is up to federal agencies, state governments, state energy offices, regulators, and utilities to decide how these new powers will be used and how financing will be distributed.

This is a significant victory for Congress that marks the beginning of a new phase in the development and deployment of clean energy in the United States. In order to lower carbon emissions in the power sector and restore the country’s energy infrastructure, the IRA expressly introduces numerous important initiatives and incentives targeted at utilities.

Utilities and grid operators will be required to adapt to an influx of advanced energy technologies, shifting consumer demands, and rising regulatory expectations that will change how we generate, distribute, and consume electricity. Its numerous new and expanded incentives for consumers to adopt things like electric vehicles, heat pumps, solar systems, and batteries.

A wide range of distributed energy resources (DERs)—including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other cutting-edge energy systems placed in homes and businesses—are eligible for additional incentives. Numerous of these initiatives are targeted towards lower-income, disadvantaged, and indigenous households and are designed to reduce the up-front costs associated with their switch to clean energy.

The transportation industry is given special attention in the IRA with new and enhanced incentives for electric cars and commercial vehicles as the source of almost 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. These initiatives broaden tax benefits for infrastructure for vehicle charging stations and cover both new and old cars.

Accelerating the deployment of carbon-free generators is the main objective of one of the largest financing tranches under the IRA, and both DERs and utility-scale energy systems are eligible for new and enhanced incentives. Notably, the IRA increases the investment and production tax credits and adds new direct payment mechanisms, making these incentives available to local governments, nonprofits, places of worship, and other entities without tax obligations to balance.

The budding business can now benefit from very large subsidies for clean, renewable hydrogen technologies. For the first ten years that a facility is in operation, the IRA administers a production tax credit with multipliers for prevailing wage and apprenticeship criteria.

In addition to lowering carbon emissions, the IRA increases and alters the incentives for projects that verifiably absorb and store carbon.

The nation will require a dependable and expanded transmission system to transmit the energy from where it is produced to where it is used as the amount of new renewable energy entering the electric grid increases. The IRA funds new transmission and makes investments to expedite the siting of new infrastructure, which can typically take years to complete, especially when cables traverse many authorities and properties.

One of the few sticks in legislation stuffed with climate carrots, the new law seeks to minimize methane emissions in the extraction, transportation, and combustion of natural gas. The IRA not only adds additional reporting requirements but also harsh fines for methane leaks and financial support for reduction initiatives.

With its numerous energy and tax features, the Inflation Reduction Act ushers in a new clean energy era for the American economy that will revolutionize utility grid management and long-term planning.

The articles and the financial implications are outlined in this ICF article.

The Impact of Wild Fires on the Biomass Industries

The most recent version of the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) Annual Report on Forest Fires in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa was released in 2021. According to the report, last year’s fire season was the second worst in terms of burned territory on EU territory (since records have been kept since 2006), trailing only 2017 with nearly 10,000 km2 burned. More than 5,500 km2 of land burned in 2021—an area more than twice the size of Luxembourg—with over 1,000 km2 of that land burning inside protected Natura 2000 areas, the EU’s biodiversity reserve.

When analyzing early data on the effects of wildfires in the current year, the yearly reports allow the use of previous fire seasons as a reference. In light of this, 2022 appears to be even worse, supporting the unsettling destructive trend of recent years. In reality, this year has seen the burning of an area measuring 8,600 km2. By the end of October, this was one of the largest areas in Europe that had been burned by wildfires, breaking previous records for burned land in nine EU nations. Wildfires have burned across 35,340 km2 of land since the worst fire season on record in 2017, an area greater than Belgium. More than 11,600 km2 or around 35% of the overall burned area was located in the Natura 2000 network area.

Major conclusions of the report

Mapped fires in 2021 burned 500,566 hectares (ha) in total, greater than the expected 340,000 ha in 2020 but significantly less than the 1 million ha of 2017;

According to the 2021 report on forest fires, Italy was the nation with the greatest amount of burned land, followed by Turkey, Portugal, and Greece, particularly in August;

Wildfires severely impacted Europe’s Natura 2000 protected sites: in 2021, 102,598 ha (or roughly 20% of all Natura 2000 sites’ total area) were burned, which was less than the previous two years and significantly less than the average of the previous ten years;

Burnt areas increased compared to 2020 in southern EU countries, and it was the second-worst year for average fire size since 1986. The total number of fires was the lowest ever, resulting in significantly fewer but larger fires.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was improved with rescEU in 2019 and substantially strengthened in order to support countries throughout this fire season in 2021.

Six nations have requested planes, helicopters, and firefighters 11 times this year alone, making it the second year in the last ten years with the most requests to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Bad Lauterberg, Harz
© H. Streetz | Bad Lauterberg, Harz
Translation: Caution! Dead wood. Danger of Death!

Two major impacts are mutually dependent

The increase in wildfires is clearly a sign of changing climate. However, there is another factor accounting for the severity of these fires being so devastating and large: Pest infestations.

We are seeing a global increase in forest infestations with beetles and other varmints. In Germany, many areas such as the Harz are suffering from almost 100% forest decline of trees with a diameter of >25 cm. I spoke with forestry workers in Bad Sachsa, who were preparing dead logs for the harvester to process. They are snowed under with work now and know that the next ten to twenty years will be very tough for the forest industry. Forest owners have to afforest and give the trees time to regrow to ensure a sustainable forest management.

This will have a significant impact on the timber value chain, affecting construction wood and biomass alike. As less wood is available for construction wood and furniture, less sawdust is available for wood pellets. The thinning of regrowing forest cannot compensate for the sawmill residues. This development will increase the cost pressure on the aforementioned industries and might snooker achieving the European Green Deal goals and the energy transition towards renewable energies.

The Essence of 2022’s Statistical Pellet Report

Bioenergy Europe published the Statistical Pellet Report for 2022.

The total amount of pellets produced by the EU27 increased significantly, or by roughly 9%, in 2021. This relative growth translates into a growth in absolute terms of 1.636.119 tonnes. With 3.355.000 tonnes, Germany continues to be the EU27’s top producer, significantly outpacing Lithuania, which came in second with 2.108.400 tonnes. Seven of the top ten manufacturers in the world are located in the European Union. Other than Germany and Lithuania, the top producers globally include Sweden, France, Poland, Austria, and Estonia. Between 2020 and 2021, the rest of Europe (outside the EU27) also experienced a large growth of about 15%, or an absolute increase of about 200.000 tonnes. This number might appear to be low, but it is actually low because Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine were not included in the data for this report’s edition.

In absolute terms, North American production increased by just over 500.000 tonnes between 2020 and 2021, or around 4%. It’s important to note that this gain is nearly entirely the result of Canada’s output growth, which grew by 15% or 490.000 tonnes. The USA, the other nation included in this aggregate, saw a less than 1% increase in production. With about 9,3 million tonnes produced in 2021, the US is remain the world’s top producer of pellets.

Unfortunately, the South American data that has been gathered is only available for Brazil and Chile, the continent’s two biggest pellet producers. Therefore, this must be considered when drawing generalizations about South America as a whole. Unfortunately, no funding could be secured from Chile this year. The production in 2021 is 17% more than it was in 2020, or a total rise of 190.000 tonnes, although this gain is solely attributable to an increase in Brazilian production. Given the dearth of statistics, it seems likely that the rise in production in South America is higher than 17%.

Since no contribution from Oceania was received this year, it is regrettable that it is not possible to confirm the anticipated increase in production capacity in Australia that was stated last year. As a result, the data is updated to 2020. Even though there were the same number of production locations, we can nevertheless see an increase in actual production in New Zealand.

Due to challenges acquiring data, production in Asia (mostly Southeast Asia Plus Japan, South Korea, and China) cannot be calculated with any degree of accuracy. Thus, production in 2021 will be comparable to that in 2020. However, it is likely that output increased as well because continental consumption climbed by around 33% between 2020 and 2021. No data for China is shown in this study due to the unpredictability of the country’s pellet market. Accurate figures are hard to come by because of the vastness of the nation and the dominance of small producers on its market. In addition, it’s unclear what kind of pellet China is manufacturing (whether wood pellets or agropellets). In any case, it appears that the Chinese market is entirely domestic (there are essentially no imports or exports), which has very little effect on the world supply and demand.

Africa is still an undeveloped market for pellets today. Despite the continent’s significant wood supply, the pellet sector is still in its infancy. However, recent investments in the manufacture of wood pellets in Africa (mostly in South Africa and Gabon) have resulted in a marked increase in pellet output, which will be seen in the upcoming years.

For more information, visit Bioenergy Europe.

40+ Countries Pledge to Phase Out of Coal

The Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5°C in focus, more than 40 countries pledge to phase out coal by 2040.

Coal without carbon capture, mitigation or set off is the most polluting fossil fuel. Coal is also very handy, as transport and storage are easy. This makes it more difficult to phase out and establish low-carbon alternative fuels. Sustainably sourced biomass feedstocks are such an alternative, as they can also be stored, transported and used easily whenever needed. The big difference is the carbon cycle. Fossil fuels took hundreds of millions of years to build and emmit carbondioxid without taking it up in the near future. Sustainably sourced biomass introduces new carbon into the biosphere like coal does. However, new growing trees store the amount emitted from burning. The additional carbon from processing and transport can be sett off with other instruments as they will rely on fossil fuels for some time. Some coal stations have been converted to operate on biomass, which improves the environmental footprint of these facilities significantly while saving jobs and keeping infrastructure costs low.

The housing industry has a huge carbon saving potential. Bioenergy is a useful way to remove coal and gas from the these energy systems without increasing energy security risks. Bioenergy makes an excellent base load compared to wind and solar, as it is available independent from the weather.

Sources:

DGSB

UKCOP26

COP26 Sustainability Declaration

A coalition of thirteen wood bioenergy companies and organisations signed a declaration on sustainability. The declaration envisions the ambitious industry goals for growth to support the global net zero strategy. Existing wood bioenergy technlogies already help to deliver sustainable renewable energy and will further support the EU’s goals as the industry grows.

https://sustainablebioenergy.org/declaration/

The signatories are well known companies from the woody biomass industries, siuch as

Drax Group
https://www.drax.com/

Drax is a vertically integrated power supplier with own wood pellet production facilities in the United States. The biomass subisidary is Drax Biomass.

Enviva
https://www.envivabiomass.com/

Enviva Biomass is world’s largest supplier of sustainable woody biomass. The company operates several wood pellet plants in the United States with a focus on the South East.

Graanul Invest
https://graanulinvest.com

Graanul Invest is the largest European wood pellet supplier. The company mainly operates in the Baltics. In the United States Graanul Invest produces wood pellets in their plant in Texas.

Fram Renewable Fuels
http://framfuels.com/

Fram Fuels is a US wood pellet producer with three facilities. The main source is sustainably grown white southern pine.

US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA)
https://theusipa.org/

The United States Industrial Pellet Association is a non-profit trade association that promotes sustainability and safety practices within the US wood energy industries.

Fit for 55

‘Fit for 55’ is the EU package delivering on the 2030 Climate Target to climate neutrality.

The EU has set ambitious targets for reducing net emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. Reaching this goal targets on being the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The package of proposals is the approach to make the EU ‘fit for 55’ and deliver on the questions that arise with the goal. All share the benefits of more space for nature, cleaner air, cooler and greener cities. Thus, the opportunity to take action is open to all innovators and investors, companies and cities, consumers, households and individuals. The challenge is a swift green transition, while strengthening competitiveness, job creation and positive impacts of the transition.

The European Green Deal is the blueprint for transformational change. There is growing public support for climate ambition and action. The proposals fundament are policies and legislation the European Union has already put in place.  The package is based on evidence. The 2030 Climate Target Plan assesses the opportunities and costs of the green transition, and showes that the balance is a positive one if we get the policy mix right.

The Fit for 55 Package alone is not enough and cannot deliver the global emission reduction the world needs. However, the EU remains committed to the multilateral global order and calls upon partners around the world to work together. The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (‘COP26’) in Glasgow in November 2021 is one of the events for global target setting.

“The Fit for 55 Package: At a glance

The Fit for 55 package consists of a set of inter-connected proposals, which all drive towards the same goal of ensuring a fair, competitive and green transition by 2030 and beyond. Where possible existing legislation is made more ambitious and where needed new proposals are put on the table. Overall, the package strengthens eight existing pieces of legislation and presents five new initiatives, across a range policy areas and economic sectors: climate, energy and fuels, transport, buildings, land use and forestry. The legislative proposals are backed by impact assessment analysis, which takes into account the interconnection of the overall package. The analysis shows that an over-reliance on strengthened regulatory policies would lead to unnecessarily high economic burdens, while carbon pricing alone would not overcome persistent market failures and non-market barriers. The chosen policy mix is therefore a careful balance between pricing, targets, standards and support measures. Support measures•Using revenues and regulations to promote innovation, build solidarity and mitigate impacts for the vulnerable, notably through the new Social Climate Fund and enhanced Modernisation and Innovation Funds.” European Commission

Full content available here.

European Parliament votes in favor of the Biodiversity Strategy

In the plenary session on June 7th, the European Parliament debated and passed the Biodiversity Strategy. The strategy is non-binding. However, it calls for revising and aligning EU rules on the use of biomass for energy production with the objectives of the Biodiversity Strategy. Amendment 17, which would have benefited bioenergy, failed. The Biodiversity Strategy is awaiting approval from the Council. 

“The debate was opened by Rapporteur César Luena (S&D, ES) who began by thanking scientists, activists, NGOs, and young people. He argued that the text is well balanced and well negotiated and repeated the call for a binding biodiversity law. He argued that biodiversity and climate need to be solved together. He acknowledged that there are a lot of opinions on forest, and it is important to take them into account, but it is essential to protect primary and old growth forests. He concluded by saying any transition must be socially and environmentally sustainable.” comments Bioenergy Europe. And furthermore summarizes that “The debate concluded with the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, who stressed the importance of recognising and supporting farmers, foresters, and fishermen to transition towards sustainability, but it is not possible to lower the ambition on protecting biodiversity to promote cooperation and inclusiveness. He argued that although forests in Europe have been increasing in quantity, they are under increasing pressure, so their protection is crucial. He concluded by mentioning that a new forest strategy will be presented in July.”

For further information contact Bioenergy Europe.

Technical Committee on Sustainable Biomass and Biofuels Meeting

The technical committe will hold the next meeting on sustainable biomass and biofuels on 8th June 2021. The committee’s aim is to review the REDII Forest Biomass Operational Guidance. The supra-national bioenergy association Bioenergy Europe “encourages national associations to reach out to their governments in advance of the meeting if they have not done so to share Bioenergy Europe’s reply and their concerns.” 

Coal-to-Biomass conversion in Germany

To convert coal power plants to biomass power plants, Germany requires contracts for difference (CfDs) to make them profitable under current market conditions.

Fuel costs hinder German power plants from being profitable when switching to biomass based raw material. In order to make the conversion profitable, Germany needs to introduce CfDs, as used in UK. CfDs have the advantage of minimising profitability risks and increasing the probability of investments.

“Enervis estimates electricity production costs at €105-120/MWh for a 10-year funding period if a plant is commissioned in 2026. Annual funding for plant is estimated at €33-46/MWh, depending on several factors, such as the location and capacity of the plant, fixed costs and others. The average annual funding is estimated at €37/MWh.

In addition, the development of wholesale power prices is a factor in determining funding needs. Power prices will depend on the development of CO2 prices. Under this scenario, CO2 prices are estimated at €44/t CO2e in 2030.” Argus Media

Implementing a coal-to-biomass strategy would increase the base load capacities of renewable energy in Germany.

Enervis Study in German.

RED on Sustainable Forest Biomass

Achieving EU climate goals and energy transition targets depends on forest bioenergy that is produced sustainably. Therefore, the 2018 Renewable Energy Directive introduces new sustainability criteria for biomass and biogas in heat and power that cover forest biomass, too.

Several associations have brought forward their concerns, amendment ideas and other input.

A guidance to enable robust and harmonised implementation of sustainability criteria for forest biomass is important. To prevent market barriers, it is crucial to interprete measures and timeliness in transposition and implementation coherently. We need to emphasize that this is not a sustainability issue, but rather an issue of the mechanisms and systems. The draft regulation in its current formulation, stretches the boundaries of the criteria according to the Renewable Energy Directive, by adopting several recommendations from the 2021 Joint Research Centre report on woody biomass. However, the inclusion of these criteria should be avoided as this would lower the momentum.

Link to the EC Draft Act. The deadline for inputs closes on 28th April 2021.

Bioenergy Europe

EU Taxonomy Webinars

The EU is starting a series of webinars on taxonomy. The webinars are an opportunity to explore and discuss key concepts and possible future policy solutions related to the Platform on Sustainable Finance’s work. “Interested stakeholders will be able to engage on the approaches and key concepts developed by the Platform on Sustainable Finance so far and get an insight in the work process of the Platform.”

There will be five livestreams, exploring different aspects of the EU taxonomy:

  • “The first webinar will focus on the role the EU taxonomy can play in stimulating and mobilising finance for transition to environmental sustainability
  • The second webinar will discuss possible ways of extending the EU taxonomy framework beyond green activities
  • The third webinar will present some of main challenges and possible solutions with regard to taxonomy-linked data and corporate reporting and disclosure
  • The fourth webinar will offer an insight into the work process of the Platform in developing the EU taxonomy criteria for the remaining four environmental objectives (water, circular economy, pollution and biodiversity)
  • The fifth webinar will address the potential development of social taxonomy and give an insight into a possible structure of such taxonomy”

Registration for the events.

Source

EU allows private investments into renewable energy

The EU allows investments from private investors to fund green tech. According to a survey, private entities are able to participate in the renewable energy financing mechanism. The European Commission opened a seven-point questionnaire that aims at providing indicative feedback on potential investors. The EU renewable energy financing mechanism is in the implementation phase.

Private investment are a cornerstone of the successful rollout of the European Green Deal. Private investors will have an equal opportunity to contribute to the mechanism. Their financial contributions count to the EU binding target of at least 32 % of  renewable energy. There will be a link to projects with financial support from private investmors to the EU-wide green label. An additional incentive are possible guarantees of origins for the energy production corresponding to the private investment contribution. Guarantees of origin “could be issued for the renewable energy production in accordance with Article 19 of the directive and subject to the national legislation in the country hosting the project.” Private investors benefit from broadening their sustainability and decarbonisation portfolio and from diversifying their investment agenda.

All private entities, natural or legal persons, can express their participation interest. They can further indicate a preference for the tender procedure for which its payment is intended, or a type of technology that they wish to support.

“Replying to this questionnaire does not create any legal or financial rights or obligations either for the respondent or for the European Commission.”

Further information:

The survey:

Expression of interest for participation in the Union renewable energy financing mechanism as a private investor

EU renewable energy financing mechanism

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/1294

Information according to (link).

The Biomass of European Forests

The European Joint Research Centre (JRC) published an analysis on the European forests and their biomass potential.

Europes bioeconomy is highly relying on forest biomass as a relevant source of energy and raw material. However, the biomass stock data are poorly harmonized and need an update. The JRC Biomass Assessment Study recognized this need. This helps to understand the possible contribution of biomass stock in Europe to a sustainable bioeconomy. “The present report provides an overview of existing forest biomass data in Europe, describes the methodologies used to harmonize and compare them, and proposes an improved biomass map consistent with the forest inventory data.”

European countries have diverging forest and biomass definitions. The estimation periods are different and use various scales. A first step in the study was the harmonization of biomass data provided by the National Forest Inventories (NFIs). Furthermore, the biomass maps for forest definition had to be resonated. Finally, amendments lead to consistent data on forest areas and “biomass available for wood supply, using the same reference definition and common criteria to assess wood availability and related restrictions. The data harmonization produced a reference database of forest biomass in Europe, which includes statistics at sub-national scale and field plots, both harmonized for biomass pool and reference year.”

With the Biomass of European Forests database, uncertainties of the biomass maps at different spatial scales become visible. With the harmonized data it became clear that biomass maps have a relatively low accuracy at local scale. The result of the study is a biomass map of Europe at 1 ha resolution for the year 2010. This map is “in line with the reference statistics in terms of forest area and biomass stock.”

EC Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Recommendations

The European Commission published recommendations to the Member States’ Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans. Here is the link to the recommendations for all countries.

As an example, the European Commission recommends Germany to foster a smart and diversified agricultural industry that is able to ensure food security. The industry shall further strengthen the actions taken to protect the environment and climate. All with respect to the climate-related goals of the Union. Societal concerns especially in rural areas are another improvement option. Considering the impacts of digitalization, innovation and sharing of knowledge is very important.

The recommendations are based on the framework of the structured dialogue for the preparation of the common agricultural policy (CAP) strategic plan. They follow the analysis of the “state of play, the needs and the priorities for agriculture and rural areas in Germany. The recommendations address the specific economic, environmental and social objectives of the future CAP”.

Details on the European Green Deal are here.

Electrification of the Heating Sector

Early 2021, the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) published a paper on the electrification of heating and cooling. As a decarbonsation strategy, “the EL60 (32% heating and cooling electrified replacing fossil fuels) scenario seems to be the most ambitious electrification scenario that can be secured by today’s capacities”. However, based on the current capacities, this puts pressure on the grids particular in Austria, Finland and Latvia.

Many power systems can deal with higher heat and power demands from electrification of the sector. Especially heat pump capacity increases in the order of 1.1–1.6 TWth can be deployed. This would correspond to a heat pump share of 29–45% in space heating. 12 Member States could fully electrify without hickups. Three Member States could face some capacity issues, if they substitute 40–60% of fossil fuel technologies. An important enabler is the possibility to react to flexible electric demands.

EC is Forming a New Industrial Forum

The European Commission is forming a new Industrial Forum and calls for applications for the selection of members of the expert group.

The forum is part of the New Industrial Strategy for Europe. It is an inclusive and open mechanism for co-designing solutions with stakeholders. The task is to support the European Commission “in its systematic analysis of industrial ecosystems and in assessing the risks and needs of industry as it embarks on the digital and green transition, and the strengthening of its resilience.”

“The expert group will also contribute to the coordination of recovery efforts, as a forum for EU countries and industry to exchange best practices to transform industrial ecosystems.”

The Industrial Forum shall have up to 55 members from

A) Group C members

Industrial associations, NGOs, R&T organisations, trade unions and representatives of the financial and investment industries.

B) Group D members

National or regional EU member authorities.

C) Group C members

The European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

This current call concerns applications for type C members. Applications must be filed by January 4th to this email address. The inaugural meeting of the Industrial Forum is planned for January 2021.

The call for application can be downloaded here.

Further information can be found here.

Bioenergy Landscape 2020

In 2018, biomass accounted for 10 % of gross final energy consumption within the EU28. Bioenergy saved 310 million tons of CO2eq. 56.6 % of the EU’s total renewable energy consumption is covered by bioenergy. This underlines that the renewable energies industries are vital for the European energy system.

Bioenergy usage has more than doubled since 2000. It contributes to all final usage forms of energy – heat, electricity and transport. Bioenergy is currently the largest renewable source in Europe and will remain so in the future. Thus, the industry is an “indispensable and unavoidable” companion of the European energy system.

The main sources for bioenergy are agricultural feedstock and forest streams. Since bioenergy is labor-intensive, jobs in solid biomass, biofuels, biogas and renewable municipal waste add up to 708,600 jobs and more than 50,000 business units. The turnover in bioenergy added up to EUR 57.6 billion in the EU-28. As a leader in bioenergy technologies and exporter of equipment and solutions, Europe strongly contributes to making the industry resilient to variances in the global value chains and national market distortions.

With ambitious climate goals for 2050, renewable energy sources are an important piece of Europe’s energy consumption mix. The report stresses that only an “ambitious and stable policy framework” can ensure the energy transition. The fundament must be set now, with renewable sources being the backbone of the EU energy mix.

Sources:

Bioenergy Europe

Bioenergy International