• Drax welcomes positive conclusion of the EU’s discussions on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII)

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      Greg Kelsall

Drax Group in the UK, a leading global energy company, recently welcomed a positive conclusion of the European Union’s discussions on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII).

The agreement reached by the EU Institutions recognises the importance of sustainably sourced biomass within the region, providing renewable, reliable power while displacing fossil fuels and supporting good forest management. According to the Drax press release, counterproductive and arbitrary proposals presented during the legislative process, such as a cap on the use of ‘primary woody biomass’, have been rejected. These would have had serious consequences for the EU’s energy security and forest health.

The agreement demonstrates the EU’s continued support for sustainable biomass and will strengthen sustainability standards to reflect good forest management practices and align with the cascading principle to ensure that wood is utilised to its highest economic and environmental added value.

Importantly, the updated Directive reaffirms sustainably sourced biomass as a 100% renewable energy source, as well as including provisions to ensure that biomass goes to the highest value application, including Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), an important large scale carbon removal technology in which Drax plans to become a global leader.

Drax CEO, Will Gardiner said, “Biomass has a critical role to play in supporting energy security as the world decarbonises, providing reliable, renewable power and displacing fossil fuels. We are pleased to see the European Union recognise the importance of biomass within the region and take steps to further strengthen its sustainability and forestry standards. As a global leader in sustainable biomass, we are committed to ensuring that the biomass we source has a positive impact on climate, nature and the communities in which we operate and hope this decision will ensure biomass continues to play a central role in Europe’s energy transition.”

Biomass, when sustainably sourced, uses sawmill residuals like sawdust, harvest residuals including tops, branches and bark as well as low-grade roundwood. The importance of the sustainable sourcing of biomass by Drax came under some scrutiny by the BBC recently as reported by IFRF.

As a fully dispatchable renewable, biomass plays an important role in energy security, providing 11% of the UK’s renewable power.

For completeness, REDIII, which has reached provisional political agreement, will raise the share of renewable energy in the EU’s overall energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030 with an additional 2.5% indicative top up that would allow it to reach 45%. In terms of the industry sector, the provisional agreement provides that industry would increase their use of renewable energy annually by 1.6%. It indicates that 42% of the hydrogen used in industry should come from renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) by 2030 and 60% by 2035.