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Encouraging the use of biomass as an alternative source of energy

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Encouraging the use of biomass as an alternative source of energy

Biomass can help tackle climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Its use for heating, electricity generation and transport fuels can diversify the European Union’s (EU) energy supply and create growth and jobs. For its contribution to be effective, it must be produced in a sustainable manner.

ACT

Communication from the Commission - Biomass action plan (COM(2005) 628 final of 7 December 2005).

SUMMARY

Biomass can help tackle climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Its use for heating, electricity generation and transport fuels can diversify the European Union’s (EU) energy supply and create growth and jobs. For its contribution to be effective, it must be produced in a sustainable manner.

WHAT DOES THE COMMUNICATION DO?

It sets out ways to increase the development of biomass energy by creating incentives for its use and removing obstacles to its production. It identifies measures to promote biomass in heating, electricity and transport. It addresses issues such as supply, financing and research. The action plan was a first step to highlight the industry’s importance.

KEY POINTS

The communication led to further initiatives to promote biofuels.

Sustainability criteria exist to ensure that the use of biofuels guarantees real carbon savings and protects biodiversity. They stipulate that biofuels:

  • must achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 35 % compared to fossil fuels. This rises to 50 % in 2017;
  • cannot be grown in areas with previously high carbon stock such as wetlands and forests;
  • cannot be produced from raw materials harvested from biodiversity-rich land.

Voluntary schemes verify whether producers comply with the sustainability criteria. If they do, they are eligible for financial support or their output counts towards national renewable targets.

Procedures for permits: practical recommendations provide help and advice to project developers, NGOs and public authorities when handling requests to build biomass plants.

The European advanced biofuels flight path aims to promote biofuels as a renewable fuel alternative for aircraft.

BACKGROUND

Biomass is derived from organic material such as trees, plants and agricultural and urban waste. Its production involves a chain of activities from growing of feedstock to final energy conversion. In 2012, biomass and waste accounted for some two thirds of all renewable energy consumption in the EU.

For more information, see the European Commission’s biomass website.

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC (OJ L 140 of 5.6.2009, pp. 16-62).

Green Paper - A European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy (COM(2006) 105 final of 8.3.2006).

last update 12.08.2015

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