Overijssel no longer gives subsidies to companies that burn wood to produce energy. The Regional Director (GS) chose this because he cannot rule out the possibility that the use of “woody biomass” will do more harm to the climate than good. The subsidy valve will be closed in July for all new projects that want to produce electricity or heating by burning wood.
The question is whether Overijssel limits construction of new biomass plants with this. For power plants that burn logs to produce energy, such as heating for gas-free homes, the central government is the most important point of contact for financial support. The House of Representatives wants to close this counter for the time being, pending the general “gradual end plan” for biomass burning. But in the meantime, the government has already guaranteed subsidies for many Dutch biomass power plants that have yet to be built. So Overijsil is asking the government, along with other European Union countries, to put in place rapid ecosystems that can be legally enforced on biomass.
And Overijssel has already tried to arrange this himself, by requiring that the wood chips do not come with contaminated transport from far away and no clear cut. This attempt to control biomass at the regional level failed. Deputy Tijs de Bree (PvdA, Energy) said: “To our surprise, in our search for more control, it turns out that the requirements for origin we have already defined are not legally permissible.” Since this does not rule out the possibility that biomass combustion in Overijssel could cause environmental damage and high CO2 emissions, due to the transportation of timber in ships and trucks, the province is suspending subsidies.
To compensate for the hood
Science is divided over biomass. Some ecologists argue that cutting wood can never be a sustainable source of energy. And they warn that logging destroys forests. Carbon dioxide emissions are rising, while they must be reduced quickly. Another piece of science says that biomass can be sustainable, through the use of (pooled) wood and sustainable forest management, to compensate for logging.
Overijssel also argues that bioenergy can be environmentally friendly enough, provided the requirements are specified for the origin of the wood. It is not clear when these conditions will be enforced. ”The district hopes to clarity soon. In Overijssel, as in other provinces, biomass is one of the pillars of climate ambitions.
Ten reasons not to burn biomass
In October 2020, 35 scientists said in Trouw that wood as an energy source is bad for the climate.
Biomass deserves a broader view
The climate-neutral circular economy has no chance without biomass, said Bart Stringers, a senior researcher on climate and biomass at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.