By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS, June 16 (Reuters) – The European Union is
considering tightening rules that determine whether wood-burning
energy can be classed as renewable and count towards green
goals, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
The EU’s executive Commission will next month propose a
package of policies to slash planet-warming emissions, including
fuel tax changes and reforms to its carbon market. All are
designed to meet the EU’s target to slash greenhouse gas
emissions by 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.
The package will also include an overhaul of EU renewable
energy rules, which decide how quickly the bloc must expand
sources like wind, solar and biomass energy produced from
burning wood pellets or chips.
A draft of that proposal, seen by Reuters, would require
biomass-fuelled power and heat plants with a capacity of 5
megawatts (MW) or above to meet sustainably criteria, and
provide substantial emissions cuts compared with burning fossil
Biomass plants with a capacity below 20MW are currently
exempt from those requirements.
Biomass-fuelled plants will only count as renewable if they
produce 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil
fuel-based power plants, the draft said. Currently, that
requirement applies only to new installations that started
operating this year.
The draft said any national support schemes promoting
biomass energy use must follow a “cascading principle”, where
wood should only be burned for energy as a last resort. The aim
is to stop wood that is fit for other purposes, like making
furniture, from ending up as fuel.
The law will also set more ambitious targets for the EU to
expand renewable energy. The numbers for these new targets were
not included in the draft proposal.
The EU’s current target is to expand its share of renewable
energy to 32% of final consumption by 2030, although the
Commission’s analysis suggests that will need raising to 38-40%
to comply with the bloc’s new emissions-cutting goal.
Renewable sources provide just shy of 20% of EU energy in
(Reporting by Kate Abnett;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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