Comment period on SBP biomass standards closes April 25

By Erin Voegele | April 24, 2014

A comment period on five draft biomass standards developed by the Sustainable Biomass Partnership closes on April 25. The standards make up the SBP’s Biomass Assurance Framework and are designed to allow companies in the biomass sector demonstrate compliance with legal, regulatory and sustainability requirements.

North American pellet producers are encouraged to participate in the consultation. “European utilities using biomass need to meet emerging regulatory requirements in Europe,” explained Peter Wilson, interim director of the SBP. “Therefore, they must source wood biomass which comes with a credible assurance that it derives from a legal and sustainable source.” That is the goal of the ABP’s Biomass Assurance Framework; to ensure that wood biomass, such as wood pellets used in power and thermal applications are derived from legally and sustainably managed sources.

“The framework recognises biomass drawn from FSC or PEFC-certified forests but provides a mechanism for assessing and mitigating risk for biomass from non-certified sources too,” Wilson said. “The BAF will focus on certification of fuel producing facilities such as wood-pellet mills, rather than forest-level certification, and mills will need to undertake a risk-based supply base evaluation and take the steps necessary to preclude illegal or unsustainable biomass from entering the supply chain.  Our sustainability criteria are based on the UK’s CPET Category B criteria as a starting point as we judge these to be the most comprehensive available. We are of course seeking to cover all the European and national requirements so, for example, we have benchmarked our draft standards against the draft Dutch NTA 8080 biomass sustainability criteria.”

According to Wilson, another challenge is the need to carry greenhouse gas data along the supply chain using a certified chain-of-custody. To accomplish that requirement, the framework uses Belgian data requirements as a starting point, since they are considered to be the most comprehensive, he continued.

“Wherever possible we are recognising existing mechanisms rather than reinventing the wheel,” Wilson said. “Obviously, the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes have some very robust systems in place already. The problem is that at the moment their schemes don’t reflect all the needs of the biomass sector so we have been exploring with them to what extent that might be possible in future. I am greatly encouraged by these discussions but even if we can overcome that, it still leaves us with the problem of poor uptake of forest certification in some key source areas, notably the SE USA. Boosting uptake of certification is of course another area in which the sector could work together with the existing schemes.”

Additional information on the standard and comment process is available here and on the SBP website