Biomass currently provides a significant proportion of Europe’s renewable energy, but there are questions over the sustainability of this in terms of wider environmental impacts, efficiency of resource use and level of resulting greenhouse gas emission reductions. Delivering environmentally responsible bioenergy requires the consideration of a wide range of interrelated factors, including: existing uses of biomass; direct and indirect land use impacts; understanding waste management and residue use; environmental, social and economic consequences; as well as trade and inter-institutional factors across a wide range of sectors.
IEEP’s work in this area aims to improve the sustainability of bioenergy policies, given that this is an important part of Europe’s future energy policy as well as essential for the resource efficiency agenda.
IEEP takes a multi-disciplinary approach to assessing these complex relationships, focussing on the interconnectivity of impacts across sectors as diverse as food production, waste management, energy and transport. With expertise in agriculture, forestry, economics, energy, trade and environmental policy IEEP is able to take a trans-disciplinary look at bioenergy and its potential role in the future. We were one of the first organisations to raise, at the EU level, the indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts resulting from EU biofuel use, and our work on the carbon debt of bioenergy has helped to increase consideration of sustainability in the use of solid biomass. Our work involves research into the most sustainable means of delivering bioenergy as well as offering advice to EU and Member State law-makers, academics, regulatory authorities, industry and NGOs.
IEEP has submitted feedback to the European Commission’s public consultation on the EU classification system for green finance, with a focus on mitigation in the agriculture, forestry and bioenergy sector.
IEEP, Wageningen University & Research and Navigant held a workshop on 18 November to explore where crops for non-food purposes could be grown in Europe in the future. Current policy seeks to steer these crops to abandoned or degraded land, but the workshop looked at how much is available, where it is and how suitable this land might be in practice.
The EU risks missing out on the opportunity to take a leadership role in the implementation of SDGs domestically and globally. This paper maps the action needed to step up the delivery of the 2030 Sustainability Agenda by the EU at the global level. The paper is part of the Think2030 initiative launched by IEEP and partners in 2018.
The European Parliament’s first reading opinion on the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive, moves some steps forward in the debate on sustainable use of biomass for energy in Europe. However, the devil is in the (considerable) detail set out in the adopted text.
There is mounting interest in biomass to provide heat, power and, transport fuels but also as a basis for alternative products for replacing plastics, and other fossil fuel derived commodities. How can the bioeconomy and the bioenergy sector evolve to deliver sustainable, coordinated and efficient use of resources?
New IEEP report finds the agriculture sector can significantly contribute to the EU’s climate commitments by reducing its non-CO2 emissions. It also finds these contributions can be delivered cost efficiently with environmental co-benefits without impacting production.
Ensuring the carbon sustainability of bioenergy requires a new approach in EU policy. This IEEP report spells out a different pathway to the one proposed by the European Commission in the recently released “winter package”.
On 30th November, the European Commission published a “Winter package” of policy proposals, including for bioenergy in the form of a revised Renewable Energy Directive. Although encouraging to answer the many requests for policy certainty, a number of key questions about the right and most appropriate approach to deliver sustainable bioenergy still remain and need further scrutiny.
Understanding the consequences of increased biomass demand for energy on the environment is central to the development of future policy on renewable energy in Europe. This study seeks to help answer this need by modelling different levels of biomass demand for energy and the consequences for land use and forest based industries.
Improving the resource efficient use of wood through cascading the resource from one use to another, requires action throughout the wood flow. Current efforts focus on recovering and re-using waste wood but more could be done with the production and utilisation of wood processing residues and improving the balancing between the material and energy use of wood.
Defining effective and workable sustainability criteria for biofuels is one of the critical steps in decarbonising Europe’s energy sector. Such criteria must provide the necessary safeguards for the use of bioresources in Europe, as well as the policy and investment certainty required for sustainable deployment.
Defining effective and workable sustainability criteria is one of the critical steps in decarbonising Europe’s energy sector. They must provide the necessary safeguards for the use of bioresources in Europe, as well as the policy and investment certainty required for sustainable deployment.
Current data availability is inadequate to undertake a detailed national or European level study of land areas that are underutilised and could be considered available for bioenergy production within the EU.
Claude Turmes MEP hosted an event launching both IEEP’s report and a debate on the future of renewable energy in Europe. In the our report IEEP present how a resource efficient energy system might be delivered in a way that minimises impact on biodiversity and the wider environment.
Dr. Ben Allen presented IEEP’s views on the sustainable use of biomass at an international conference in Brussels. Understanding the scale of the resource is a key part of determining appropriate policy intervention and ensuring commercial viability.
How should EU policy support the transition to low carbon transport fuels post 2020? A new IEEP led report argues that future policies should be differentiated to tailor support towards specific objectives and technologies that offer the greatest potential for a low carbon future.
Waste resources have the potential to provide a core component of developing bio-economies across the globe. A new IEEP report reviews how waste has been incorporated into existing bio-economy strategies, and the conditions that have enabled this.