Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU is planning to tighten rules on the production of energy from biomass and to rethink its classification of such projects, according to a draft statement.
The move is aimed at protecting ecosystems, limiting deforestation in old-growth forests and preventing wood suitable for other purposes from ending up as chips or pellets for powering biomass power plants, Reuters reports.
In the draft document, the European Commission calls for amending the rules for biomass power and heat plants with an output of 5 MW or more, stressing that they should emit less CO2 than fossil fuels and that they should meet sustainability standards.
Current EU regulations apply these stipulations to biomass plants with an output of 20 MW and more.
The EU met roughly 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources in 2019, with biomass plants accounting for more than 50%. The bloc classifies such plants as green because the CO2 they release was absorbed from the atmosphere by the trees during the course of their lifetime.
Activists not satisfied
Environmental activists have criticised this classification and assert that the draft proposal falls short of protecting forests.
According to the EC proposal, biomass power and heat plants that emit 70% less greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels would be classified as sustainable. Current EU rules make this a requirement only for plants that started working this year.
In the draft document, the Commission stresses that EU member states should promote the use of biomass energy only if the wood cannot be used for any other purpose.
The bloc currently aims to cover 30% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, but the EC maintains that approximately 40% is needed if EU environmental targets are to be met.
The Commission is expected to present the draft proposal on 14 July, as part of a series of new policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions some 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.