New standard helps assess bioenergy sustainability

Standard applies to all forms of bioenergy, regardless of raw material, geographical location, technology or end use

A new international standard to help assess the sustainability of bioenergy products and processes has been developed.

ISO 13065, Sustainability criteria for bioenergy was published by the International Organization on Standardization (ISO).

The standard sets out a practical framework for considering the environmental, social and economic impacts of bioenergy production and products, supply chains and applications. It can be applied to part of a supply chain, the whole of it, or to a single process.

It is intended to apply to all forms of bioenergy, regardless of raw material, geographical location, technology or end use.

ISO expects the standard to be useful for bioenergy producers and buyers, to make comparing sustainability information easier and more transparent.

But ISO 13065 does not set threshold values for bioenergy or determine whether a fuel or process is sustainable. Nor is it intended to replace national legislation or certification systems.

However, ISO hopes the new standard will influence government agencies and the development of other standards and certification by serving as a source of information on sustainability and as a basis for encouraging legal compliance.

The European Commission will table a proposal on bioenergy sustainability for the period after 2020 in 2017.

Five EU countries – Belgium, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK – have their own national sustainability criteria for biomass or are developing them, the Commission said in a policy paper last year.

Bioenergy will be the main renewable energy source for meeting the EU's 2020 goal of 20% clean energy consumption. But EU plans for sustainability criteria for the period before 2020 were abandoned in the face of opposition from some member states and sectors.

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