Source: Energetski portal

Within the conference Net-0-Biomass – Towards sustainable energy use of biomass, organized by RES Foundation, three panels were organized: on knowledge, economy and public policies of biomass. Participants in the discussions were domestic and foreign experts from Finland, Great Britain, representatives of the Delegation of the European Union, technical bodies of the UN, ministries, universities.

The third discussion was dedicated to what kind of public policy we can define in order to achieve NET-0-biomass, to not emit CO2, how to preserve forests and biodiversity, but also ensure sufficient amounts of electricity in Serbia.

The experiences of other countries in this area were also presented within the panel. The conversation was led by Jasminka Young and Aleksandar Macura, programme directors of RES Foundation. The series of presentations and discussions included Peter Coleman, Head of Bioenergy and Land Use Science at the Department of Energy Security and NET Zero in the UK, Sami Rinne, Advisor at the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, Tiziano Pignatelli, Co-Chair of the Working Group on Technical Economic Issues of the Technical bodies of the UN-ECE Convention on Air Transport Geneva and Antoine Avignon, programme manager of the EU Delegation in Serbia.

Cascade principle

According to RED 3 Directive 1/4 member states will have to apply the so-called “cascade principle”. In accordance with the cascade principle, wood biomass should be used in accordance with its highest economic and ecological added value in the following order of priority: wood-based products, extending their lifetime, reuse, recycling, bioenergy, disposal.

“The latest JRC research shows that it is very difficult to achieve both carbon and biodiversity benefits from any type of forest conversion. Policymakers and scientists recognize that different values, worldviews and ethical perceptions of natural resources and their management are a key part of the debate,” said Jasminka Yang. This will not solve more scientific research, because science is a social enterprise where value choices and judgments are inevitable. .

Young emphasized that transparency is key and cooperation with policy makers and co-creation of beneficial results with all stakeholders should be welcomed. This is why such conferences are organized.

Peter Coleman said that in Great Britain, the Convention dealing with the negative impacts of pollutants from burning wood on human health was adopted, which served to adopt the Biomass Strategy in this country. Pollutants, oxides, ammonia, particles, heavy metals and more from burning wood pollute the environment.

Reducing the emission of negative gases

More than half a million people died as a result of polluted air in the member states of the European Union in 2021, according to data from the European Environment Agency. The agency’s researchers determined that the concentration of fine particles in the air, known as PM 2.5, was higher than five micrograms per cubic meter, which is the recommended limit according to the World Health Organization, responsible for the death of about 253,000 people. So the concentrations in the air were twice as high. There is no purification equipment in houses and households in the EU, but there is such equipment in industrial plants and these are highly efficient plants for reducing the emission of negative gases.

“In 2019, the Code of Good Practice for small combustion plants on solid and liquid fuels was adopted, with the aim of disseminating information on how to reduce emissions from these installations and combustion plants. The first instrument to reduce emissions is based on new technologies for fireplaces, upgrading equipment to improve combustion quality and to improve combustion efficiency, because the same amount of combustion and heat is obtained from the same or less amount of wood. Second, it is important to use household heating devices correctly. By reducing negative emissions, less money is spent. Based on these findings, they gave recommendations to users on how to reduce air pollution. The first thing is that the wood must be completely dry or that the humidity must be below 15 percent, and that the pellets must be of the best quality and that the stoves of the lodges must be used in the right way,” said Coleman.

The Working Group for International Cooperation in the Field of Air Pollution is located in Geneva, and its goal is to promote cooperation for the purpose of reducing air pollution. Aleksandar Matsura said that in Serbia we do not have an adequate policy to respond to the challenges of major air pollution. Despite the fact that in 2022, Serbia adopted the Air Quality Plan and for greater reductions in the use of wood in households, the way in which it is done is insufficiently changed. Biomass is a large area of primary energy production.

“When we talk about RES, most people see solar energy, but biomass is invisible. If we want sustainable development, we all need a lot of information, cooperation, education, projects. We have reduced many risks so far, but we must not allow ourselves not to identify further risks and we need to adopt measures to mitigate them,” said Macura, adding that unlike us, Great Britain has a public policy and they are already learning from their own mistakes. International mechanisms for know-how exist, but coordination in Serbia is not something we are proud of.

Priority treatment for green transition projects

After the British and Serbian experiences, the attendees were presented with presentations from Finland. Sami Rine said that in that country 40 percent of the energy for heating is obtained from wood fuel (biofuel). When a forest is cut in Finland, it takes 20 years to become carbon, and 100 years to have the same amount of carbon as before the tree was cut. That’s a long time. Therefore, various targeted measures are implemented.

“In Finland, the main problem is that we don’t have enough old trees and old forest material.” In 2023, the Priority Treatment for Permits for Green Transition Projects came into effect, and those projects that do not harm the environment are given priority status in the issuance of permits. If they do not do any damage to the environment, then the processing of such requests goes much faster,” said Rine.

Antoine Avignon from the EU Delegation has been working in Serbia since 2017. His review of the new Directives established by the EU for this area is that the rules for the use of biomass for the production of bioenergy are much stricter.

According to him, by 2050, a 180-degree turn is foreseen in relation to benefits and sustainable development in accordance with the new Directive. In Serbia, the EU Delegation deals with policies, innovations, communications, invests a lot in demographic values and strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I am not sure that there is a plan for the transposition of the RED 3 Directive into the legislation of Serbia, nor what is the time frame.” Within the framework of the Directive, new criteria will be applied in countries that wish to join the EU. “Evidence will be needed to protect the land, not to use wood as an energy generator, because of the risk and illegal cutting of forests, and all that must be arranged,” said Avignon.

In addition, new biomass plants will have to have 65 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, and this requires new worker skills, as well as establishing monitoring and follow-up. Large plants above 100 MW will have to achieve higher efficiency. It was concluded at the conference that new regulations are needed and that in the future we work with trees in a very correct, responsible and sustainable way.

Mirjana Vujadinović Tomevski