AK: Estonia wants re-categorization of woody biomass in EU green package | Economy
Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden are calling for lighter restrictions on the use of wood in energy production, which would involve negotiating biomass to remain a source of energy production in part of the Renewable Energy Directive.
The climate package recently announced by the European Commission requires member states to classify timber stock in terms of value and avoid its use for burning in power plants – a bit of a change from the Union’s position in the 1990s, when wood as a fuel source was equated with wind and solar in terms of renewable energy status.
However, the commission does not explicitly prohibit the use of woody biomass in the production of electricity.
Woody biomass is basically wood used as fuel to produce either electricity or heat. While the Estonian oil shale sector needs to be restructured in order to meet the EU’s long-term climate goals, burning wood can release as much, and sometimes more, CO2 than fossil fuels.
The definition may need to be rephrased, Taavi Aas told AK. He said: “Tree stumps and roots are currently prohibited, but such nuances are being negotiated, to allow them to be included in the biomass as well.”
The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Timo Tatar, said: “We have a particular interest in bioenergy and forests, because we are, like other Nordic countries, rich in forest cover.”
“We remain convinced that our forest management is sustainable, and if this is done, then bioenergy will also play a role,” he added.
Wood of higher value than woody biomass is not burned in Estonian power plants, while some shale oil combustion plants can, although the practice has met with opposition.
Estonia’s forest cover is around 50 percent in total, whether public or private, while that of Finland is even higher, at 75 percent. The EU average is just under 38 percent, while major EU countries such as Germany (32 percent), the Netherlands (less than 10 percent) and the Belgium (around 22 percent) have much poorer forest cover than the northernmost Member States. A former state of the EU, the UK has a forest cover of less than 12 percent.
Some conservationists in Estonia, however, say the European Commission’s proposals do not go far enough.
Siim Kuresoo, head of the forestry program of the Estonian Nature Fund (Eestimaa Looduse Fondi metsaprogramm) told AK: “Many scientists and citizens have asked the Renewable Energy Directive committee to exclude all types of wood. renewable fuels, but the committee ignored them. It will certainly be a blow to the forests of Europe.
The package announced this week would ban the production of energy from biomass when it comes from forests very rich in biodiversity.
Industry spokesperson Henrik Välja of the Forest and Wood Industry Association (metsaja puidutööstuse liit) said there were differences in the proportion of woody biomass that could be used to burn wood from Estonian forests , compared to those of Finland.
While 40 percent of the timber cut is sold as is, of which 25 percent as pulpwood, for example used in papermaking, and 35 percent will be burned as firewood, along with the Finnish forest, the proportions are 40 percent, 50 percent and 10 percent.
“As long as we don’t have that [Finnish] situation, it makes sense for us to use raw materials for local heat generation, power generation and power generation, ”Välja said on the show.