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Report, 2010

Certification criteria for sustainable biomass for energy

Ladanai, Svetlana; Vinterbäck, Johan;

Abstract

Rising energy prices, geopolitics as well as concerns over increasing oil prices, national security, and the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on global climate change are driving large-scale efforts to implement bioenergy alternatives. Biomass (i.e., non-fossil material of biological origin from forest, agriculture, different kind of wastes or other origins) can be used to produce different forms of energy (electricity and heat and solid, liquid and gaseous fuels), thus providing the whole range of energy services required in modern society, both locally and in most parts of the world. Markets for energy generated from biomass are expanding at a fast pace, driven by the above mentioned expectations and concerns as well as by the support of policy makers, business representatives, academics as well as members of civil society. Moreover, there is more and more concern across the globe that business can be successful while also being environmentally and socially responsible. Sustainable use of biomass as an energy source requires comprehensive management of natural resources such as land and water, whereas unsustainable biomass production would erode the climate-related environmental advantage of bioenergy. One strategy to manage this state of affairs is to certify that biomass for energy meets certain sustainability criteria. Establishing certification schemes is a possible strategy to ensure that bioenergy is produced in a sustainable manner. However, without a well-functioning biomass market that can assure a reliable and lasting supply, the existing high ambitions for bioenergy may not be met. Certification could become a prerequisite for biomass producers to obtain or secure positions in the EU market as well as globally. Different types of certification systems, international standards and initiatives relevant to biomass production already exist. However, an analysis of the experience gained with these systems, reveal that they are not effective to monitor and manage all effects of biomass production for energy. There are as well many other barriers toward successful achievement of the benefits for environment and society of the use of sustainable certified biomass. Moreover, although such systems, standards and initiatives affect areas that are of concern to many governments, such as the environment, labor conditions, children’s rights, access to niche markets and price premiums, for governments, trying to serve producers, traders and consumers, it might not always be clear what role they could or should take on with respect to these developments. In the attempt to create an implementable certification system for sustainable biomass production, the existing forest certification systems were evaluated against environmental and social/economic sustainability indicators. The criteria that the most widely applied forest certification systems such as PEFC, FSC, CSA, SFI, MTCC and AFS were missing, have been suggested to be excluded, whereas The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children is suggested to be included. The final results of the evaluation and subsequent filtering process is the list of criteria suggested as the minimum universal sustainability principles for biomass production. The selected minimum universal sustainability criteria are debatable

Keywords

bioenergy; biomass; certification; principles; criteria; sustainability

Published in

Report / Department of Energy and Tecnology, SLU

2010, number: 026
Publisher: Department of Energy and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Ladanai, Svetlana
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology
Vinterbäck, Johan
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Energy and Technology

UKÄ Subject classification

Renewable Bioenergy Research

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/32520