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Companies urge the Commission to include bioenergy as part of the REPowerEU strategy

Companies urge the Commission to include bioenergy as part of the REPowerEU strategy
A biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant.

In anticipation of the REPowerEU strategy, over 500 companies in the bioenergy value-chain have called upon the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice-president Frans Timmermans, and Commissioners Kadri Simson and Thierry Breton to take a holistic approach in defining the way forward to end energy dependence on Russian gas.

Signed by over 500 “CEOs and high-level representatives of the bioenergy industry“, the letter represents a determined reaction from the sector following the mid-March REPowerEU proposal.

A proposal that the signatories say, overlooks most of the sustainable bioenergy as part of the solutions to effectively eliminating the EU’s dependence on Russian gas before 2030.

This “ill-fated lack of vision” goes against biomass’s indisputable role in fostering renewable energy sources penetration and achieving a Net-Zero economy by 2050 as recently confirmed by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the International Energy Agency (IEA) as well as scientists from IEA Bioenergy.

CEOs and high-level representatives of the European bioenergy and biofuels value-chain, most of which are SMEs and family-owned businesses, urge EU leaders to rethink their plan and include biomass, a readily available solution, among the answers to the current energy security and energy price crisis.

In the letter, the companies write “We are concerned by the lack of vision within the REPowerEU proposals from the EU Commission that do not include solutions that can offer a quick reduction of [Russian gas dependence], such as an array of bioenergy applications, waste for energy, and district heating.”

To stress the current and future role of bioenergy for the society at large, the signatories remind the Commission that the “European bioenergy sector is a global leader in renewable technologies with more than 800 000 jobs and 50 000+ companies across the value chain”.

Furthermore, the letter highlights how “bioenergy is readily available and can be deployed quickly, often at a low cost. For example, in district heating, switching from fossil fuels to biomass and waste has reduced costs and emissions in many countries. For residential and commercial buildings, pellets, briquettes, or woodchip heating offer a clean and efficient alternative to gas and oil.”

Bioenergy, which has legally binding sustainability criteria in place, in addition to addressing our energy security, can also deliver on our climate goals, which is not the case for all options on the table, the letter points out.

A wheeled loader loading sawdust, a sawmill residue
A stockpile of sawdust at a wood pellet plant.

European policymakers cannot be doubtful about the role that bioenergy plays. We, the leaders of the bioenergy industry and utilities in Europe, call on our political leaders to allow us to contribute. Together, we can foster the use of sustainable bioenergy in Europe to replace imported coal, oil, and gas and ensure a renewable energy mix, the letter concludes.

Commenting on the initiative, Jean-Marc Jossart, Bioenergy Europe’s Secretary-General, noted that this “unprecedented call by the bioenergy sector sends a strong signal to the European Commission. There are serious discrepancies between the meaningful objectives set by the EC and the way they define the strategies to achieve them.”

It is inexplicable to see such renunciation of the role of sustainable bioenergy in reducing the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels imports. The market actors are startled by the lack of common sense demonstrated with the presentation of the REPowerEU communication in mid-March. Beyond Europe’s energy stability and security, the EU needs bioenergy to achieve its own long-term environmental and energy objectives, ended Jean-Marc Jossart.

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