Bioenergy, forestry sectors jump on EU’s green finance bandwagon

Bioenergies, including wood, biofuels and forest-based industries, should be recognised under the EU’s draft sustainable finance taxonomy, in line with the recently-updated renewable energy directive, an industry coalition has claimed.

The EU’s draft taxonomy for green finance is “undermined by significant divergences” with the EU’s renewable energy directive, according to a joint statement by ten industry associations involved in the forestry and bioenergy sectors.

“This lack of coherence casts a shadow over the likelihood of achieving long-term EU climate and energy goals,” the coalition warns. Continue reading “Bioenergy, forestry sectors jump on EU’s green finance bandwagon”

New US Legislation will Extend Tax Credits for Bioenergy Investments

New legislation was introduced on 13 August to extend tax credits for investments in qualified renewable energy production.

The bill, named the Renewable Electricity Tax Credit Equalisation Act, was introduced by US Representatives Elise Stefanik and Scott Peters and covers investments in renewable energy production including closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, municipal solid waste, geothermal, qualified hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic. Continue reading “New US Legislation will Extend Tax Credits for Bioenergy Investments”

A global 100% renewable energy system

(Image courtesy: iStock/Milos Muller)

A new report by LUT University in Finland and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) in Germany outlines a cross-sector, global 100% renewable energy system, backing up the version it released last year. The full modelling study simulates a total global energy transition in the electricity, heat, transport and desalination sectors by 2050. It claims that a transition to 100% renewable energy would lead to a system that was economically competitive with the current fossil and nuclear-based system. It could also, the study says, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy system to zero by 2050, or perhaps earlier, without relying on negative CO2 emission technologies.

LUT/EWG have also developed a range of national roadmaps for the transition to 100% renewable power. The new global 100% renewable study builds on that work, and earlier global studies, covering all sectors.

“The study’s results show that all countries can and should accelerate the current Paris Climate Agreement targets,” said Christian Breyer, professor for solar economy at LUT. “A transition to 100% clean, renewable energies is highly realistic – even today, with the technologies currently available.” Continue reading “A global 100% renewable energy system”

World to Install Over One Trillion Watts of Clean Energy by 2023

The world could install more than a trillion watts of renewable power over the next five years, more than the entire current generation capacity of the European Union.
The International Energy Agency’s latest annual report on renewables forecasts as much as an extra 1.3 terawatts of clean energy will be installed by 2023 under one scenario. Even in its more conservative central forecast, the agency predicts that renewable energy capacity will grow by 1 terawatt, driven by a boom in solar installations and more accommodating government policy.

New Power Capacity

The positive outlook for clean energy comes with a warning that government support and market design is critical to ensuring that renewables continue to be invested in and built.

Energy from solar, wind and hydro will continue to outpace natural gas and coal over the next five years, the IEA said. Generation from natural gas will be squeezed by cheap coal and ever more competitive solar and wind technologies. Continue reading “World to Install Over One Trillion Watts of Clean Energy by 2023”

Biofuels are not a green alternative to fossil fuels

Although some forms of bioenergy can play a helpful role, dedicating land specifically for generating bioenergy is unwise, say WRI president Andrew Steer and director of food, forests and water, Craig Hanson.

Powering cars with corn and burning wood to make electricity might seem like a way to lessen dependence on fossil fuels and help solve the climate crisis. But although some forms of bioenergy can play a helpful role, dedicating land specifically for generating bioenergy is unwise. It uses land needed for food production and carbon storage, it requires large areas to generate just a small amount of fuel, and it won’t typically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
First, dedicating areas to bioenergy production increases competition for land.

Roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land is already being used to meet people’s need for food and forest products, and that demand is expected to rise by 70 per cent or more by 2050. Much of the rest contains natural ecosystems that keep climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere, protect freshwater supplies, and preserve biodiversity.

Because land and the plants growing on it are already generating these benefits, diverting land—even degraded, under-utilised areas—to bioenergy means sacrificing much-needed food, timber, and carbon storage.

Second, bioenergy production is an inefficient use of land.

While photosynthesis may do a great job of converting the sun’s rays into food, it is an inefficient way to turn solar radiation into non-food energy that people can use. Thus, it takes a lot of land (and water) to yield a small amount of fuel from plants. In a new working paper, WRI calculates that providing just 10 per cent of the world’s liquid transportation fuel in the year 2050 would require nearly 30 per cent of all the energy in a year’s worth of crops the world produces today. Continue reading “Biofuels are not a green alternative to fossil fuels”

Promoting renewable energy use – European Council adopts its position

On 18 December 2017, the Council adopted its position on a directive promoting the use of renewable energy across the EU. This agreement paves the way for the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as its negotiating mandate is agreed.

The EU is committed to reach a target of at least 27% renewable energy of its overall energy consumption by 2030. This directive, in line with the guidelines of the European Council from October 2014, confirms this binding target and puts in place the appropriate framework and tools to achieve that goal.

The new legislation addresses bioenergy, sustainability, transport, electricity, heating and cooling, and in particular, focuses on empowering consumers. Facilitating and enhancing consumers’ use of renewables is a key element in the Council’s position.

“This decision has a direct and positive impact on all Europeans. Using more renewable energy will help our cities, industries and houses become cleaner, healthier and more sustainable. The directive will also make it easier for consumers to take the initiative and become producers themselves. Through a combination of action by governments, companies and consumers, we will be able to maintain our leadership in renewables.” says Kadri Simson, Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure of the Republic of Estonia. Continue reading “Promoting renewable energy use – European Council adopts its position”

Arizona regulators explore ramping up use of forest biomass for power

Should utility customers pay a surcharge for bioenergy that helps utilize trees thinned from Arizona’s overstocked forests?

That was one possibility discussed last week at a first-ever workshop on forest bioenergy hosted by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Representatives from some of the state’s largest utilities, businesses, nonprofits, the Forest Service, and state and local governments all had a chance to weigh in at the workshop, which focused on the problem of biomass in Arizona’s forests and the opportunities and commercial viability of using that forest material to generate power.

“We’re looking at…addressing it in a way that we can make some significant progress in bringing back the health of our forests,” said Commissioner Boyd Dunn, who initiated the workshop. “We’re here discussing an opportunity to address this whole issue by utilizing the Arizona Corporation Commission as a catalyst.”

Among the topics discussed was what it might cost ratepayers to support an expansion of bioenergy in the state, with estimates ranging from $4 per month to less than $1 per month.

“The impact to the consumer will be negligible,” said Brad Worsley, the CEO of the state’s only utility-scale biomass power plant in Snowflake, as he discussed costs of building another plant in Arizona.

Continue reading “Arizona regulators explore ramping up use of forest biomass for power”

Adding the voice of forestry to the environmental movement


Forest in Söderåsen National Parl, Sweden. Photo by Zak Gratton.
  • Addressing climate change and environmental degradation will require a total rethinking of our relationship with the natural world, including forests.
  • However, academics and researchers appear far more open to supporting lobbying from big industries such as bioenergy.
  • Academic forestry should consider the impact this imbalance has upon the sustainability movement.
  • This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.

Last month, over 100 senior academics and researchers signed on to a knee-jerk letter from an industry lobby group criticising a Chatham House report that highlighted the serious damage industrial biomass energy is doing to the climate and environment.

The Chatham House report’s findings aren’t just some treehugger mumbo-jumbo, they’re well-documented in peer-reviewed articles and IPCC reports. The critique letter, on the other hand, is biased, vague, and a clear attempt to derail the argument for a properly sustainable bioenergy regime that provides real climate benefit without degrading forest biological diversity. Continue reading “Adding the voice of forestry to the environmental movement”