Ensuring sustainable biomass

One of the major challenges for the Danish energy supply right now is to reduce levels of per- manent CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, thus contributing to keeping the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, as well as addressing current dependence on fossil fuels. The use of sustainable biomass to replace fossil fuels is an important tool in this context, as the burning of fossil fuels creates permanent emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere, whereas sus- tainable biomass creates only temporary emissions, which minimises the impact on the climate. In order to ensure that a significant CO2 reduction is achieved, it is essential that only biomass fractions that have a positive effect on the climate (in relation to the objective of 2 degrees) are used.

Alternative documentation for sustainable forestry. The evaluation of alternative documentation for sustainable origin of biomass is based on NEPCons The requirements for Alternative Documentation for Sustainable Biomass under The Industry Agreement for ensuring Sustainable Biomass, which includes specific requirements for biomass producers that supply biomass from certified and non-certified forests.

Evaluation of alternative documentation also includes validation that biomass is covered by FSC, PEFC or SBP certification in value chains where the supplier to the work is not self-certified. The evaluation is based on current FSC, PEFC or SBP

Industry Agreement to ensure sustainable biomass (wood pellets and wood chips) A voluntary industry agreement concluded in autumn 2014, which implies that electricity and heat producing companies in Denmark must use sustainable biomass. This implies, inter alia, that the biomass coming from forest areas must be produced in accordance with the criteria for sustainable biomass as stated in the agreement and that the use of biomass contributes to a significant CO2reduction in coal and gas.

Electricity and heat generating companies with an installed capacity of more than 20 MW must, according to the agreement, meet specific documentation requirements (see below) and prepare an annual report describing the status of the company's compliance with the industry agreement. The report must be approved by an independent third party and published on the company's website. 

Certified biomass. According to the Industry Agreement, biomass covered by FSC, PEFC or SBP certification meets the requirement for sustainable forest management documentation (requirements 1-6). Biomass supplied by vendors covered by a valid certificate that includes the relevant product group is considered to be certified if the supplier's certification number and one of the following claims appear from the supplier's invoice:


Recognized claims on supplier invoice


SBP Compliant


FSC 100%

FSC Mix Credit

FSC Mix X% (X% of volume supplied with FSC Mix X% claim, considered to be sustainably documented)


X% PEFC Certified X% of volume delivered with X% PEFC Certified Claim, is considered to be Sustainable Documentation)

Documentation for sustainable forest management. According to the Industry Agreement, biomass covered by FSC, PEFC or SBP certification meets the requirement for sustainable forest management documentation (requirements 1-6)

The requirements of the agreement 1-6 can also be complied with by another appropriate form of documentation than certification.

The documentation requirements will enter into force on 1/8 2016 (thus with effect for the purchase for the heating season 2016-2017). The cogeneration plants are committed to documenting on a yearly basis that the following percentage (by weight) of wood pellets and wood chips meets the requirements:

2016: 40 %

2017: 60 %

2018: 75 %

2019: Fully phased in

FSC See dk.fsc.org or ic.fsc.org

Exposure limits for CO2emissions from the biomass value chain. The limit values must ensure a significant CO2reduction relative to the reference based on:

  1. Reduction rate, referring to the current EU guidelines, combined with the most ambitious European standards.
  2. Reduction compared to the reference set by the EU (fossil fuel comparator).
  3. Inclusion of the entire value chain for both biomass and fossil reference. The value chain is expected to include: Operation that can be attributed specifically to the production of the fuel (including planting, maintenance and forestry), processing of fuel, transport to final customer (energy producer) and utilization rate at power plants.

Supplier Evaluation Program. Power plants receiving biomass with alternative documentation for sustainable forest origin must establish a supplier evaluation program that ensures that relevant suppliers have implemented workflows that ensure that criteria The requirements for Alternative Documentation for Sustainable Biomass under The Industry Agreement for ensuring Sustainable Biomass are met.

The evaluation program must meet the supplier evaluation requirements as specified in FSC-STD-40-005 V2.1.

The Supplier Evaluation Program shall not include suppliers who can provide sufficient evidence that they meet Requirements Specification for Alternative Documentation for Sustainable Biomass in accordance with the Industry Agreement for Sustainable Biomass. Sufficient documentation includes evaluation report, compiled by a competent third party, which includes all relevant requirements in the said requirement specification.

PEFC See www.pefc.dk or www.pefc.org

SBP See www.sbp-cert.org

Forest. The industry agreement to ensure sustainable biomass from forests defined as areas greater than 0.5 hectares with a minimum width of 20 m shrugged with trees higher than 5 meters with a crown cover of more than 10 per cent. or with trees that are potentially able to reach these values at the venue. The definition does not include areas dominated by agriculture or urban use, including cottage areas.

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