NC Partnering Newsletter 3/2016

Bioeconomy Beyond Bioenergy

This time we would like to elaborate on the impact political decisions have on the bioeconomy. In recent years the bio-focus has to a great degree been on energy solutions aimed at reducing greenhouse effects. Some of these are based on international agreements, and thus driven by political consensus. As bioenergy solutions are generally subsidised, investors run the risk that political moods change and subsidies are reduced or cancelled. Recently there has been lot of debate around the criteria for bioenergy sustainability.

The original intent behind the RES directive was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Renewable Energy Directive (RES 2009) establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.

Biofuels and bio-liquids are instrumental in helping EU countries meet their 10% renewables target in transport fuels. The Renewable Energy Directive sets out biofuel sustainability criteria for all biofuels produced or consumed in the EU to ensure that they are produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

The EU has defined a set of sustainability criteria to ensure that the use of biofuels (used in transport) and bio-liquids (used for electricity and heating) are done in a way that guarantees real carbon savings and protects biodiversity. Only biofuels and bio-liquids that comply with the criteria can receive government support or count towards national renewable energy targets. The EU-criteria contain e.g. the following:

  • To be considered sustainable, biofuels must achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 35% in comparison to fossil fuels. This requirement rises to 50% in 2017. In 2018, it rises again to 60% but only for new production plants. All life cycle emissions are taken into account when calculating greenhouse gas savings. This includes emissions from cultivation, processing and transport.
  • Biofuels cannot be produced from raw materials obtained from land with high biodiversity such as primary forests or highly biodiverse grasslands.

The above is the officially stated position of the EU Commission, but does it provide a level playing field across all sectors?

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NC Partnering newsletter 03/2016

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