TEG report calls for sharp curb to wood biomass burning

An independent EU Technical Expert Group (TEG) report just published recommends that only residues, thinnings and stumps should qualify as wood bioenergy fuel, along with separate “advanced bioenergy” feedstocks under the new Sustainable Finance Taxonomy (see technical annex for feedstocks). 

This in turn will determine eligibility for “green investment” status, counting towards renewable energy targets and involving literally hundreds of billions of Euros.

The recommendation is in sharp contrast to the broad leeway given for “whole tree” wood use by the EU’s Renewable Directive II. 

In line with the consensus from a series of scientific reports, the TEG finds that wood burning for bioenergy “can deliver mitigation benefits, but if done incorrectly can have no net positive impact or even a negative impact.” Wood bioenergy is not carbon neutral: it emits more greenhouse gases per energy unit than fossil fuels and the zero carbon emission claimed at point of burning is nonsensical when tree grow-back (the “carbon compensation” period) takes so long – particularly in relation to the urgency of the EU’s 2050 carbon target for limitation of global warming. 

Even in this more restrictive format, the TEG criteria still require reform – being open to lax or illegal interpretation. 

They will be adopted by the end of 2020, coming into force next year.