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NZIA incentivizes renewables but lacks strategic vision on bioenergy and BECCS

NZIA incentivizes renewables but lacks strategic vision on bioenergy and BECCS
Bagging biochar from a biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) district heating plant in Austria. Using pyrogenic carbon capture and storage (PyCCS), a negative emission technology (NET), the plant is an example of what Bioenergy Europe says is missing from the Commission's Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) proposal.

On March 16, 2023, the European Commission announced its Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) proposal. Commenting on the NZIA, Bioenergy Europe says that it welcomes the publication of the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) but "we regret a lack of strategic vision for the bioenergy industry and net-negative technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)."

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The Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) is part of the Green Deal Industrial Plan which aims at enhancing the competitiveness of Europe’s net-zero industry and supporting the fast transition to climate neutrality, by simplifying and fast-tracking permitting while supporting the scale-up of sustainable technologies.

The strategy presented in the proposal, which was announced on March 16, 2023, marks an important step towards the swift upscale and faster implementation of renewable solutions together with carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS).

However, the absence of bioenergy from the list of strategic net-zero technologies shows, according to Bioenergy Europe, a “clear lack of vision” from the European Union (EU).

Furthermore, this heavy focus on CCS technologies “overshadows the negative emission technologies (NETs ) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies, including BECCS, that are necessary for achieving a European net-zero industry.

By enforcing the EU market for BECCS, many of these innovative projects would be quickly realized and would contribute to achieving negative emissions on a large scale, as seen with the leading EU-funded project BECCS@STHLM, which aims to remove 800 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere every year in Stockholm, Sweden alone.

The upscale support to BECCS is essential, as it would enable Europe to spearhead BECCS technologies at the global level, and further enhance bioenergy’s leadership role among other industrial players.

If bioenergy and BECCS are not considered strategic assets in the Net-Zero Industrial Act, and would not receive sufficient support, it would push EU-based bioenergy technology providers to outsource their production to the non-EU territory.

Given the existing 50 000 businesses and manufacturers situated in the EU and the 800 000 jobs across the value chain, this would then weaken the EU economy and decrease its industrial competitiveness.

The NZIA proposal focuses heavily on a narrow selection of technologies when it should also further support innovative carbon dioxide removal solutions such as BECCS. BECCS is an industrial technology capable of capturing and permanently storing carbon; and is already a prominent, developed, and cost-effective carbon removal solution that can achieve net-negative emissions. Without the right support, innovative CDR technologies would be a missed opportunity said Ennio Prizzi, Policy Officer at Bioenergy Europe.

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