EVENT WBPM – “SUSTAINABILITY WAS, IS AND WILL REMAIN KEY” Advanced biomass networking and discussions about coal-like properties perhaps, Dr William Strauss (centre) having a word with Norwegian Arbaflame duo, Rune Brusletto (left) and Arne Erik Kristiansen during a coffee break. id biomass ever enacted. It ensures supply of a sustainable product, while being workable within North American forest products markets, remarked Ginther. Market unattractiveness Whilst the UK biomass sustainability process may have been transparent, the impact of political intervention and public opposition since 2008 has had a ”detrimental” effect on market attractiveness for the industry and investors. – Of 25 years in the UK renewable energy industry and £1.8 billion invested in biomass I’ve had three good years. At some point, common sense has to prevail, said Dr David Williams, CEO Eco2 Ltd. Editor’s note: On March 13 an agreement was reached and March 18 the Dutch government published the Covenant between energy companies and environmental organisations on sustainability criteria for biomass for co-firing in coal plants, the world’s most ambitious sustainability criteria. www.rijksoverheid.nl Text & photos: Alan Sherrard BI78/4782/AS Bioenergy Internat ional No 78, 2-2015 51 For anyone seeking clarity on the Dutch sustainability criteria for biomass co-firing, the World Biomass Power Markets (WBPM) conference in Amsterdam in February was an anti-climax. No fault of the organisers though - the final rules for the SDE-plus programme were supposed to have been published by the end of January. They weren’t. FOR SOME OF THE 150 OR SO PARTICIPANTS IT IS REASONABLE TO ASSUME that there is a lot at stake. In short access to a 3.5 million tonne per annum industrial pellet market, biomass co-firing in Dutch utilities. The number is a cap that was agreed and signed last September by the Dutch government, private sector and environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs) in the Dutch Energy Accord. Left to agree on was the sustainability criteria for this biomass, the certification process itself and the timeline for certification compliance in order for the utility to be eligible for the so called SDE+ co-firing subsidy. If it sounds familiar so far it is because the UK went through a similar process when drafting its biomass sustainability criteria. If it sounds unfamiliar it is because the process and negotiations, between the utilities and the ENGOs have all taken place behind closed doors unlike in the UK. Leveraging more sustainable land and forest management with bioenergy Dr André Faaij, Academic Director, Energy Academy Europe and Distinguished Professor of Energy System Analysis, University of Groningen, gave an energy scenario overview for the Netherlands reminding the audience that from a Dutch perspective while biomass has roughly a 50 percent share of renewables, renewables have a low share 4.4 percent of the total 2013. Reaching a 14 percent share by 2020 means doubling in six years. – Advanced biomass and biofuel markets are pushed by technological progress and pulled by high oil prices. Biochemicals, biomaterials, alternative fuels for aviation and shipping, all strong sectors in the Netherlands, are likely to compete for the same resources and so should meet the same sustainability criteria as for energy but that is not the case today, he said. According to Faaij dealing with carbon payback/debt discussions requires frameworks that secure good forest management that go beyond FSC and other schemes as do indirect land-use change (ILUC) and indirect wood use change (IWUC) since they are equally relevant and avoiding displacement requires increased productivity. – There is considerable agreement between industry and NGOs, credible verification and speed of implementation is where opinions differ. At the core is an opportunity as it bioenergy that is the lever for more sustainable land and forest management, said Faaij. Lack of transparency Seth Ginther, Executive Director of the US Industrial Pellets Association, USIPA pointed out that one key stakeholder group that have not been a part of the Dutch biomass sustainability discussions are the pellet producers on whom such sustainability terms and conditions will be applied. – As stakeholders when does our industry get an opportunity to be consulted? Ginther asked rhetorically highlighting that the Dutch government has not published any form of public stakeholder consultation at any point over the past several months, nor has it released an official draft of any proposal, making it impossible for civil society to comment on those drafts. – The North American industrial wood pellet industry has spent several years working closely with policymakers at the European Union (EU) level and within its member states on developing sustainability criteria for solid biomass. The UK went about its work in a very public and transparent manner involving all stakeholders including North American pellet producers. That resulted in the most robust set of sustainability criteria on sol- – At some point, common sense has to prevail said Dr David Williams commenting on the UK market. – Sustainability was, is and will remain key, emphasised Dr André Faaij during questions from the floor. A highlight during the torrefaction session was the presentation of the OPG Thunder Bay coal to advanced biomass conversion by Les Marshall, Senior Technology Officer, OPG.
Bioenergy no 2 - March 2015
To see the actual publication please follow the link above