State of play report on biomass and biogas sustainability published by the Commission

Shortly before the EU’s summer break, the Commission finally published a report on the sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass used for electricity, heating and cooling. The document was accompanied by JRC’s report on Solid and gaseous bioenergy pathways: input values and GHG emissions.

As regards biogas, the state of play report warns about the use of maize and other crops as a feedstock because of “a number of direct and indirect negative environmental effects” and encourages to increasingly use manure, slurry and waste to improve the GHG performance of biogas plants.

An important and surprising change compared to the leaked documents is the introduction of a 70% GHG saving threshold instead of 60%. This will be extremely difficult to reach, particularly in the case of biomethane and biogas for heating which have natural gas as fossil comparator. According to the report, only manure pathways and one biowaste pathway and one co-digestion (manure + maize 70/30) could reach the 70% threshold.

According to the Commission’s future scenarios, the biogas production would anyhow almost double in 2030 compared with 2012 rising from 5.5 Mtoe to 9.2 Mtoe.

The JRC report’s data for biogas production includes three substrates (maize, wet manure and biowaste), two alternatives for digestate management (open and closed digestate storage), and different technological options for power and biomethane production (off-gas vented, off-gas combusted), for a total of thirty pathways. Additionally, there is a paragraph describing the methodology that could be applied to estimate the GHG emissions of biogas obtained by co-digestion between maize, manure and other biowastes. The Annex 2 contains EBA’s and other stakeholders’ questions/comments on manure credits, digestate, average/marginal values etc. + JRC’s answers/rebuttal.

To read more:

State of play on the sustainability of solid and gaseous biomass used for electricity, heating and cooling in the EU

Solid and gaseous bioenergy pathways: input values and GHG emissions calculated according to methodology set in COM(2010)11 and SWD(2014)259

EBA’s comments on Sustainability recommendations on biomass and biogas in electricity and heating