Role of bioenergy in the post 2020 energy mix
Bioenergy and biomass can contribute to the post-2020 targets but its sustainable availability is not endless and hence should be limited. The level of this limit should be fixed on the basis of the EU’s maximum sustainable potential of domestic biomass feedstock supply taking into consideration competing uses in other sectors
The EU must prioritise energy saving for a number of reasons, including that it reduces the need for biomass in the energy sector. Biomass policy should also prioritise demand reduction and ensure that biomass is supplied and used with maximum efficiency. The principle of ‘cascading use’ should be applied. The efficient sustainable use of small-scale bioenergy in rural communities, carried out so as to enhance biodiversity and resilience, should be encouraged.
In order to ensure that only sustainable forms of bioenergy are promoted, robust sustainability criteria that cover environmental and social impacts will be needed. The sustainability criteria must ensure that biomass use does not have negative effects on biodiversity. In particular the production of biomass must not cause direct or indirect destruction or degradation of natural forests, or other habitats with high value for their biodiversity and as carbon sinks.
Biomass that receives support and subsidies under EU law should be subject to comprehensive accounting of greenhouse gas emissions and deliver real emission savings. It is imperative that this methodology takes carbon debt into account, and addresses errors in the way carbon is currently counted that effectively treats all bioenergy as ‘zero carbon’.