European policies should support the key role played by agricultural biomass and energy crops in the achievement of EU long-term decarbonisation objectives.

A set of legislation pieces do so: In 2020, the European Commission (EC) went on with the EU Green Deal agenda implementation, producing a 2030 Biodiversity Strategy (recognising sustainable bioenergy as an important tool to fight climate change and identifying it as a priority along wind and solar) and Energy System Integration Strategy (including a chapter on unlocking the potential of renewable fuels produced from sustainable biomass and acknowledging biomass as an enabler of carbon capture, storage and use that can lead to “deep decarbonization).

In 2021, the EC will revise two key EU laws, the Renewable Energy Directive and the Regulation on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), and present “operational guidance” on the new sustainability criteria on forest biomass for energy.

BECoop provides Member States evidence-based recommendations to support implementation of all these laws, the promotion of community bioenergy schemes as well as enabling frameworks for community bioenergy and the renewable heating sector. The project aims at initiating a debate with policy makers, regional and national authorities and relevant EU Initiatives to define points of attention/barriers (e.g. legal, procurement, tax, etc.) and respective mitigation actions for the creation of an enabling environment that could foster community bioenergy.

What about now

  • The revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) already integrates the sustainability criteria to the use of biomass, to reduce the carbon footprint of bioenergy along its value chain. It will be enforced at national level all over Europe from July 2021. REDII also recognizes the role of renewable energy communities to help fight energy poverty through reduced consumption and lower supply tariffs.
  • The LULUCF set in 2018 a binding commitment that total emissions from the forestry sector are in balance and do not exceed CO2 removals, to guarantee that biomass used for energy purposes is sustainable. The LULUCF accounting system is part of the EU sustainability criteria for bioenergy.
  • The Ecodesign Directive provides consistent EU-wide rules for improving the environmental performance of products, such as household appliances, information and communication technologies or engineering, and limiting the emissions from small scale bioenergy installations. For biomass installations, 2 groups of products are subject to eco-design and eco-labelling requirements: solid fuel boilers with a rated heat output of 500 kW or less and local space heaters with a nominal heat output of 50 kW or less. Medium scale and large scale installations are respectively regulated by the Medium Combustion Plant Directive and the Industrial Emission Directive.
  • The Energy Performance of Buildings and the Energy Efficiency Directive, strengthening the current EU legislative framework towards a more efficient, decarbonised and renewable-based building sector, that can be achieved with bioenergy, through district heating and decentralised stoves and boilers installations. The housing sector can use pellets for space heating with stove or boilers. District heat and heat provided through Combined Heat and Power plants (CHP’s) will also play an important role for the transition of an efficient and renewable-based heat sector.
  • A bioeconomy strategy published in 2018 aims at ensuring food security, managing natural resource sustainably, reducing dependence on non-renewable resources, mitigating and adapting to climate change, creating jobs and maintaining EU competitiveness.