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Sustainability is a core value of bioenergy. At the European level today, sustainability in bioenergy is guaranteed through the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Bioenergy is the first energy source to have legally binding sustainability criteria, ensuring that all biomass, regardless of origin, being used in the EU for bioenergy, is sustainability produced. This means that soil quality and biodiversity are protected; for woody biomass, it means that forest carbon stocks remain stable or even grow.

The role of biomass

Bioenergy plays a fundamental role in helping the EU achieve its renewable ambitions. Bioenergy is Europe’s largest source of renewable energy; in 2019, bioenergy provided 57,4% of Europe’s renewable energy which corresponds to 11,4% of the total energy for the EU. Bioenergy plays a key role across the EU and represents at least 30% of the renewable energy in every Member State.

While the majority of the EU’s energy still comes from non-renewable sources, this varies across the three different energy uses: electricity, transport and heating/cooling. Although electricity is often considered synonymous with energy, it is only 25% of the EU’s energy usage, with a similar share (28%) being used for transport. The majority (47%) of the EU’s energy actually goes toward heating and cooling. While there are many other renewables that make big contributions to renewable electricity generation, there are far fewer options in the renewable heating sector. This is where bioenergy makes the biggest contribution: the decarbonisation of heating. In fact, 85% of all renewable heat is bioheat!

Our position

­­EU policies should support the key role played by bioenergy and continue to promote the green transition. Bioenergy can, and should, play an important role in EU decarbonisation, especially in the heating sector. Currently, the EU is in the process of revising RED, which determines the type of biomass that counts as sustainable. We strongly support the sustainable production of biomass and the need for bioenergy to help in the green transition, especially in the heating sector. We argue that the rules must be clear, understandable and they should limit the administrative burden placed on market actors seeking to increase renewable energy production. To understand our position on RED, see our position paper.

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