Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

EU agency warns over increased biomass use

EU energy ministers on Thursday emphasised that the use of biomass as an energy source should be increased, but the same day an EU agency launched a new report which also warned that too much biomass production could harm the environment.

"It needs to be done in a sustainable way," said author of the report, Tobias Wiesenthal from the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA).

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In the report "How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?" Mr Wiesenthal points out that the 2010 EU targets for the use of biomass across the bloc "can be met and even exceeded" but that "it had to be done the right way."

The EU must manage the rise in the production of biomass in line with other policies and objectives it has, aiming to protect biodiversity and not producing more waste, he said in his report.

The document calls for the implementation of environmental guidelines at local, national and European level.

Biomass is an organic matter that can be used to create electricity, heat and fuel for transport and is mainly made from waste, grass, corn and trees – basically the same as fossil fuels used to create oil and petrol with the difference being that it has not processed over millions of years.

At the moment it provides two thirds of the renewable energy produced in Europe.

The report argues that a large scale production of biomass from agriculture, forestry and waste across the union might put additional pressure on farmland and forest biodiversity as well as starving soil and water resources.

It could also counteract current EU objectives on waste minimisations or environmentally-oriented farming.

The European Commission in December adopted a plan on increasing the use of biomass energy across the EU bloc to reduce Europe's dependence on imported energy, cut greenhouse gasses and protect jobs in the bloc's rural areas.

It was this plan that EU energy ministers welcomed on Thursday, stating that member states should increase their use of biomass as an energy source.

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