World Bioenergy, organized every second year at Elmia in Jönköping, is a major international bioenergy conference that also includes a tradeshow and field excursions.
On the third day of the conference, the focus was on process linked aspects and ways to ensure sustainability on bioenergy processes and products. Discussions and sessions all departed in the notion of the growing market and demand for bioenergy. There has been a large increase in bioenergy volumes since the year 2000, and this tendency is expected to continue. The expansion will however put further pressure on the market and society to ensure that production and use of bioenergy secures long term environmental, societal and economical values.
Today, bioenergy sustainability issues are in focus in society as well as when it comes to trade. A long range of voluntary initiatives for certification and/or labeling are found on both liquid and solid biomass. Many producers, e.g. in countries in Africa, however experience a problem in that even if they opt to get a certification, this will not automatically result in an increased price. Another challenge concerns the certification schemes themselves; how do you choose when there are so many, and which are the preferred options? One opinion put forth in the discussions on World Bioenergy was to have preferably all biomass included in certification schemes, and not just the biomass for bioenergy purposes. This is not an easy task though, and perhaps the time is not right to accomplish this at present. The problem of having different certification schemes depending on end-product is that effects can be lost on the non-certified products, while certified products will carry a heavier burden.
The World Bioenergy conference paid special attention to the ISO (International Standards Organization) standard on sustainable bioenergy, ISO 13 065 (ISO/TC248), which is presently being developed. Lena Dahlman at Svebio argued that the development of the Sustainable Bioenergy standard is one component of the continuous work of strengthening the brand of bioenergy as a sustainable energy carrier.
The initiative for this standard came in 2009 from Brazil and Germany, and the first meeting was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2010. The standard will provide principles, criteria and indicators (PCI) to assess sustainability aspects of bioenergy processes and products. The standard does not include any thresholds stipulating levels for when a certain product can be considered “sustainable”. It will however provide a common language on sustainability issues linked to bioenergy process and products, and be the provider of verifiable and measurable information for “someone else” to assess and apply their thresholds on. The information will typically be disclosed in business to business relations. The standard should be applicable for all types of biomass production and bioenergy production processes globally. A major challenge is that production parameters differ between parts of the world. Experts from all over the world are taking part in the standard development process; Sweden and Brazil are together convening the part of the standard that concerns social and environmental aspects. It is still possible to take part of the development process; contact Maria Gustafsson at SIS (Swedish Standards Institute) by phone (+46 8-555 521 23) or e-mail.
Notes by Mathias Gustavsson, IVL. Mathias is one of the experts in the standard development process.
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