Yesterday, the European Parliament voted on the report of MEP Markus Pieper (EPP, DE) proposing a revision of the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED III). The role and place of solid (forest biomass) and liquid bioenergy (biofuel) was at the heart of the stereotyped debate, far from ground realities, leaving the European parliamentarians adopting an untenable position, mainly for the European forestry biomass sector.
Facts first – at present, almost 60% of all renewable energy produced in the EU comes from sustainable biomass, almost exclusively sourced in Europe. For many Europeans, bioenergy is a popular, affordable, and local source of energy. This observation is even more true since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine and the general rise in energy prices.
It is therefore clear that to achieve the voted goal of 45% of renewable energy by 2030, the EU cannot reach its target without an optimal mobilisation of its first source of renewable energy! However, it is a mixed signal that the European Parliament has decided to send today, especially to the solid biomass branch.
The end of ‘primary biomass’ financial support, the limitation to EU renewable energy targets at the level of 2017-2022 and the phasing down proposed by MEPs is a punch in the face for thousands of forest owners and bioenergy producers. This decision disregards the basics of forest management reality as nearly every harvest and tending operation results in ‘primary biomass’ removal from forests. Disregarding ‘primary woody’ biomass would also imply leaving residues in the forest to decay, releasing the same amount of CO2 as if they would be used for energy without the benefit of replacing fossil fuels- not to mention the increased risk of forest fires.
This approach will not only affect bioenergy production and supply, but also the entire biomass value chain. The provisions would also affect end-users who rely on biomass to provide a stable, cost-effective, and sustainable source of heat and power.
On crop-based biofuels, Copa and Cogeca welcome the rejection by MEPs of the most damaging amendments featured in the proposal. The European Parliament has decided to pursue a stable and predictable policy. Indeed, certified sustainable crop-based biofuels are an efficient solution to decarbonise transport. Research and innovation programmes need to continue to offer solutions in sectors when electrification is not feasible. Crop-based biofuels generate food, feed and fuels and jobs in rural areas. The European Commission regularly confirms that EU biofuel production is sustainable.
Copa and Cogeca therefore expects a reaction from the Member States on the issue of solid bioenergy and a confirmation of the position taken by MEPs on liquid biofuel in theupcoming trilogues.
Artigo publicado originalmente em Copa Cogeca.