Sustainability criteria for solid biomass

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The parties of the Dutch Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth (2013) have agreed that 25 PJ renewable energy will be produced by co-gasification and co-firing of biomass in coal-fired power stations in order to attain the renewable energy goals in 2020 and 2023 (14% and 16% respectively). The Dutch government wants to stimulate this through a category for co-gasification and co-firing of biomass in the SDE-scheme.

Biomass eligible for the SDE+ grant should be sustainable. This holds for the category co-gasification and co-firing in existing coal-fired power stations, the category new capacity for co-firing of biomass in coal-fired power stations and the category industrial boiler steam production from wood pellets. The sustainability criteria do not apply to other categories of energy production out of biomass. In the agreement it was stated that mainly requirements for sustainable forest management, the prevention of the emergence of a carbon debt and indirect land use changes (ILUC) are important for the use of biomass for energy.

A group of energy companies, environmental organisations and the government have developed the sustainability criteria for solid biomass. The sustainability criteria for solid biomass are available as part of the Dutch SDE+ subsidy scheme.

Ways to demonstrate compliance with sustainability criteria

There are 2 ways for grant recipients to demonstrate compliance with the sustainability criteria: via certification and verification.

Several certificates are available, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The minister will appoint certification schemes that are compliant with the sustainability criteria of the SDE by 2017. Until then the verification protocol gives information about the certificates that can be used in the meantime. In a letter to the Dutch parliament the Minister has explained the implementation of the sustainability criteria of solid biomass for energy purposes.

This letter also explains that the sustainability criteria will be based on the Dutch Environmental law via an Administrative Decree. The consultation of this Administrative Decree took place via (Dutch) from April 1 until May 27. English documents are available on this website (Dutch).

If no certificate is available, verification can be used to demonstrate compliance. Therefore, a verification protocol is being developed. For this process the following planning applies:

29 March 2016Draft verification protocol available via
31 March 2016Webinar "draft verification protocol" to explain the consultation (in Dutch)

June 2016

Publication consultation report verification protocol

June 2016

Start case studies verification protocol

Early 2017Publication final verification protocol
7-30 March 2017First application period SDE+ 2017 Spring

Disclaimer: planning and content are subject to change.

Consultation verification protocol

The sustainability of solid biomass can be demonstrated via certification or verification by independent recognised auditors based on the verification protocol. The verification protocol describes what methods and which evidence can be used to demonstrate the sustainability of a biomass consignment. Grant recipients that hold certificates need the verification protocol mainly for sustainability criteria for which no certificates are available, such as ILUC, greenhouse gas balance and carbon debt. Auditors examine in this case whether or not the biomass meets the requirements.

The consultation of the verification protocol has been closed. You can download the consultation report at the bottom of this webpage. If you have questions, please send an email to

Publication verification protocol

The adjusted protocol will be tested in practice during the summer. Thereafter, the final verification protocol will be published on the site. The protocol is expected to be published early 2017.



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