The battle for the European Union to abandon its reliance on Russian fossil fuels is already under way. Global efforts to strengthen energy security, according to the International Energy Agency, “turbocharged” the growth of green power in 2022. EU legislators intend to increase renewables targets to reach 45% of the EU’s total energy consumption by 2030.

In contrast to views of burning forests, the word “renewable” sometimes brings up images of wind farms or solar panels. But according to the European Commission, 60% of the EU’s renewable energy mix is made up of biomass, which includes firewood, plants, and other organic resources.

Firewood is recognised as renewable under EU law since new trees can be planted when existing ones are felled. So, provided certain criteria for sustainable sourcing are met, member nations may provide subsidies for wood burning.

The subsidy system is, however, “crazy,” according to Martin Pigeon of the Brussels-based forest protection advocacy organisation Fern, because it means “EU citizens are paying energy companies to burn forests in the middle of a climate and biodiversity catastrophe.”

Trade associations dispute these assertions. A nonprofit organisation called Bioenergy Europe is situated in Brussels and works to increase “understanding, acceptability, and reputation of bioenergy.” Irene Di Padua, the organization’s policy officer, told DW in written remarks that properly sourced biomass “is vital for the EU’s green transition, notably in delivering renewable heat.” The organisation represents more than 150 energy businesses and 40 associations.

“Bioenergy needs to comply with strict sustainability criteria that ensure sourcing and use of biomass for energy does not cause any environmental harm or biodiversity loss,” she said.

Wood burning’s effect on the environment is debatable. According to the EU, burning biomass such as wood and other types of wood is carbon neutral because additional trees will eventually take up the CO2 that is released during combustion. But according to a scientific study, the trend of using wood pellets instead of coal to generate energy actually raises “atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide over large periods of time,” according to the European Academies Scientific Advisory Council.

According to a 2019 EASAC report, depending on the circumstances, the time it takes for the carbon emissions linked to woodburning to even out might range from years to decades or even centuries.

The European Parliament intends to restrict state assistance to secondary wood products like sawdust and limit subsidies for burning wood harvested directly from forests.

Also, lawmakers want to gradually reduce how much wood counts towards the EU’s renewable energy targets.

One of the legislators involved with the idea, Nils Torvalds, claimed that it is “the parliament’s way of trying to control the unsustainable and wasteful usage” of wood.

The European Parliament’s proposals, according to Eurelectric, an industry group that represents national electricity associations and significant electricity companies across Europe, would “disturb the practicalities of forest management, lead to further supply shortages of sustainable biomass, and thus impair energy security and increase prices,” the German news agency DW reported.

Eurelectric also stated in a 2022 letter to EU member states that the notion to limit subsidies could cause certain timber excluded from support under proposals to rot on forest floors. The group claimed that this results in CO2 emissions but produces no energy.

Meanwhile, EU member states favour a more flexible definition of which types of wood are eligible for subsidies. According to a diplomat who wished to remain unnamed and who spoke to DW, “there is a sentiment that member states do think that bioenergy is an important renewable source of energy in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the energy issue. It makes a significant contribution to the energy system and achieving the goals related to climate change.

European Commission pledges stricter regulations for forest sustainability

The European Commission has also proposed changes to the regulations governing which types of firewood are eligible for subsidies. According to a spokeswoman, recommendations include prohibiting the use of wood from old growth forests and only approving state funding for lumber from “very biodiverse woods when there is no conflict with environment conservation aims.”

Under the plans, all wood-burning power stations will also have to meet specified greenhouse gas saving targets.

Nonetheless, the history of the current rules raises some questions. National governments are tasked with enacting EU regulations into national law, but a spokesperson for the European Commission told DW that the organisation began taking legal action against all 27 member states in 2021 for failing to carry out this process or failing to notify Brussels of completion.

By Bizemag Media

Bizemag Media is a reputed name and fast growing MarTech Broadcast Media Firm with success stories in USA, Canada, Europe, Africa & India

Leave a Reply