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Better Biomass certification scheme fully approved for SDE+ bioenergy subsidy

In the Netherlands, the Dutch "Better Biomass" certification scheme has announced that it is now been fully approved in the framework of the Dutch Decree conformity assessment of solid biomass for energy applications. This approval is applicable to all five biomass categories that are distinguished and applies for the global use of the ‘Better Biomass certified’ claim.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch “Better Biomass” certification scheme has now been fully approved in the framework of the Dutch Decree conformity assessment of solid biomass for energy applications. This approval is applicable to all five biomass categories that are distinguished and applies for the global use of the ‘Better Biomass certified’ claim.

Managed by NEN, the Netherlands Standardization Institute, Better Biomass has been operational since 2011 and recognized by the European Commission as a voluntary scheme to demonstrate compliance with the mandatory sustainability criteria for biofuels and bioliquids as laid down in the Renewable Energy Directive since 2012.

The Better Biomass certification scheme was re-recognised by the European Commission in the framework of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in 2018. Companies can use Better Biomass to demonstrate compliance with the legal sustainability requirements in this Directive. These requirements apply to biofuels and bioliquids. The recognition is valid for a new period of five years.

With Better Biomass, companies are assessed whether they conform to the NTA 8080 sustainability and chain of custody requirements. Companies that are Better Biomass certified are able to demonstrate to comply with the RED. Better Biomass certified products may be counted in the renewable energy target.

Fully approved certification scheme

In November 2018 the Dutch government approved Better Biomass as a voluntary scheme to demonstrate compliance in the framework of the Dutch Decree conformity assessment of solid biomass for energy applications for all biomass categories and for all but one sustainability requirements.

Now the certification scheme has been fully approved and the approval is applicable to all five biomass categories that are distinguished and applies for the global use of the ‘Better Biomass certified’ claim.

According to Better Biomass, it is the first certification scheme with full coverage. With this approval, the market has access to a robust certification scheme to independently demonstrate the sustainable origin and utilisation of biomass for energy applications. This is also important for economic operators that have been granted or will apply for the SDE+ subsidy and have to demonstrate they comply with the legal sustainability requirements.

The Decree and the related Regulation conformity assessment of solid biomass for energy applications include the sustainability, chain-of-custody and governance requirements that need to be covered in certification schemes. This set of requirements was the result of the Dutch Energy Agreement (2013) and are adopted by the SDE+ subsidy scheme for renewable energy production.

When using biomass for co-firing of biomass in coal-fired power plants, in boilers ≥ 5 MW steam from wood pellets, in wood pellets fired boilers ≥ 5 MWth and ≤ 100 MWe, or in wood pellets fired boiler for district heating, companies have to demonstrate that they comply with the legal requirements by means of certification and/or verification to qualify for SDE+ subsidy.

Scope of approval

The Regulation distinguishes five biomass categories, ranging from biomass from (sustainably managed) forests to residues and waste from industry. The sustainability requirements that are applicable all depend on the biomass category.

One element concerning the declaration that an organisation has been assessed to the definition of protected species as laid down in the Regulation would need to make more explicit. Better Biomass has successfully updated its scheme documents to close this short-coming.

With this full approval, biomass producers from all over the world can bring their products with a Better Biomass certificate to the Dutch market for the production of bioenergy. Better Biomass is not only applicable to solid biomass, but also to liquid and gaseous biomass for biofuels, power and or heat production and bio-based products.

In this way, the biomass producer has more flexibility to market its products under a harmonised set of sustainability requirements irrespective of the industrial end-use. As a member of Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN) and International Standards Organisation (ISO), NEN will ensure that the sustainability criteria and conformity assessment processes are and will remain aligned with the relevant European (EN) and international (ISO) standards.

The Better Biomass certification scheme is recognized by the Dutch Accreditation Council (RvA), being an EA and IAF member, and certification audits are carried out by independent certification bodies that are accredited to the Better Biomass certification scheme.

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