The wood-energy sector - An ally for the sustainable management of EU forests?
In its effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the European Union has been looking at ways to raise the share of renewables in the EU’s final energy consumption.
A first Renewable Energy Directive (RED I) adopted in 2009, followed by a second (RED II) in 2018, have led to the implementation of increasingly stringent sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements for certain bioenergy sectors.
In July 2021, the European Commission submitted a new proposal for the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) to the European Parliament and the Council, strengthening the sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction criteria, especially for forest biomass, following a study by the JRC. The Council and the Parliament adopted their positions which will be the basis for the ongoing trilogue negotiations.
The position adopted by the European Parliament introduces a new definition of primary woody biomass that refers to all wood taken directly from forests with a few exceptions. This definition includes residues from responsible forest management such as small wood, branches on the ground, crowns, etc. This definition is then used to cap the use of "primary woody biomass" and make it ineligible for financial support. Some stakeholders question the logic of the European Parliament gradually reducing the share of primary wood counted as renewable energy while at the same time asking for an increased RES target of 45% by 2030.
Many industry stakeholders claim that wood energy is a consequence of responsible forest management, a necessary by-product of forest maintenance, timber production and support to the forest in the face of climate change. They assert that forest biomass is thus a renewable, low carbon energy source, creating local jobs and contributing to the EU's climate and energy independence objectives.
Some countries in the wood-energy sector that rely on wood as their primary source of renewable energy have expressed concern. They argue that the definition of the European Parliament, which includes residues from good forest management, puts the entire wood energy sector at risk, and more broadly, renders the responsible management of forests more difficult in the face of climate change.
Join this EURACTIV Hybrid Conference to discuss the proposal regarding the introduction of a new definition of primary woody biomass in the revision of RED II and its implications for the wood-energy sector, in the framework of the ongoing trilogue negotiations.
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Scientific and Technical Officer & Team Leader, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
Member ENVI & ITRE Committee, European Parliament
Policy Director, Euroheat and Power
Forest and Climate Campaigner, FERN
Pierre de Montlivault
President, Federation of Energy and Environmental Services (Fedene)
16:30 - 17:00 Registration of Participants
17:00 - 17:05 Welcome
17:05 - 17:20 Panellist statements
17:20 - 18:10 Discussion and Q&A
18:10 - 18:15 Closing statements
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European Parliament plans to exclude some types of primary wood from the EU's renewable energy goals is causing jitters among the industry, which points to bioenergy as an essential part of the EU's energy security.