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Sustainability Criteria for Solid Biomass Under the SDE++-scheme

Published on:
1 March 2016
Last checked on:
5 February 2024

Do you wish to use solid biomass to generate electricity and heat? If so, it is possible to apply for the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production (SDE++) scheme. The SDE++ expands on the former Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production (SDE+) scheme. Read the text below to find out how.

Energy producers

In some cases you must demonstrate that the biomass used meets the applicable legal sustainability criteria. This applies to the following categories:

  1. wood pellet steam boiler of 5 MW or more;
  2. wood pellet burner of 5 MWth or more and less than 100 MWe;
  3. wood pellet boiler for district heating;
  4. co-firing and co-gasification of biomass in power stations (since 2018 it is no longer possible to apply for subsidy in this category within the SDE+/SDE++).

Other types of installations such as those mentioned in the Allocation Regulation for SDE Categories are not subject to these criteria.

Some of these types of installations must meet the sustainability criteria in the revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). To view these, visit the page REDII sustainability criteria for biomass under the SDE++ scheme.

How do I demonstrate that the biomass used comes from sustainable sources?

There are a couple of ways to demonstrate that the biomass used comes from sustainable sources; purchasing biomass that is certified according to an approved certification scheme and/or ensuring that the supply chain is verified or additionally verified. Various combinations are possible:

  • an approved certification scheme;
  • a combination of several approved certification schemes;
  • a combination of one or more approved certification schemes and additional verification;
  • verification only.

It is important that you cover all the sustainability criteria for all biomass consignments.
Below, you will find an overview of the certification schemes approved by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the recognised Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) for certification and verification.

Annual reporting

You can demonstrate that the biomass complies with sustainability criteria by submitting an annual report. This report should specify the sustainability characteristics of all biomass used in your installation. Since January 2023 it is also possible to use the conformity year statement to demonstrate ETS zero emissions. More information about this subject can be found on the Dutch Emissions Authority (NEa) website.

Downloads of the following documents (in Dutch), which can be used in your reports, are provided at the bottom of this web page:

  • CJV Format SDE pellets met 30 procent gecontroleerde biomassa 2023
  • CJV Format SDE pellets met 30 procent RED bosbiomassa met ETS 2023
  • Handleiding bij het format voor de lijst duurzame leveringen pellets SDE en ETS

You must include a conformity year statement with the report. An example of this statement can be found in the above-mentioned format. This must have been issued by a recognised CAB. What are the criteria that the conformity year statement must meet? And how should the verification be carried out? You can find this information in the Verification Protocol for Sustainable Biomass that must meet the Criteria in the Regulation on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications under the SDE(++) Scheme (hereinafter: the Verification Protocol). You can find the Verification Protocol pellets 2023 at the bottom of this page. You can find more information about the role and requirements of CABs in the section on CABs on this page.

Transparent chain

All relevant information on the biomass chain, from the Forest Management Unit/First Collection Point to the energy producer, must be provided in order to demonstrate the sustainability of the biomass. Requirements are also defined for how this information needs to be passed on within the chain (chain management, Chain of Custody). Approved certification schemes for passing on sustainability information can be found under the heading of 'Approved certification schemes'. The Verification Protocol can also be used to provide assurances about the chain. A guidance Chain of Custody document with additional explanations regarding the legal requirements has been drawn up for companies. This document explains what information you need to pass on and how to do this.

Advances

If you qualify for SDE+/SDE++-subsidy, you will receive an advance on a yearly basis from us. We deduct this advance from the actual subsidy amount you are entitled to, based on the information in the report submitted by you to. You may produce energy using biomass which sustainability has not been demonstrated or is insufficiently demonstrated. However, we cannot give subsidy for this unsustainably produced biomass.

Conformity assessment bodies (CABs)

CABs play a role in demonstrating the sustainability of biomass. They are authorised to perform 3 types of activities:

  1. issuing a certificate to economic operators based on a certification scheme that has been fully or partially approved by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Claims/statements of conformity from such a scheme may be used to demonstrate compliance with the legal sustainability criteria. These activities are carried out within the context of the relevant certification scheme;
  2. issuing a verification statement to an economic operator based on the requirements of the Verification Protocol for Sustainability of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications, with the aim of demonstrating compliance with the legal sustainability criteria or a part thereof;
  3. issuing an conformity year statement to an energy producer, based on the requirements of the Verification Protocol for Sustainability of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications. This statement is required for obtaining the SDE+/SDE++-subsidy for the part of the generated electricity and/or heat demonstrated as being sustainable.

CABs authorised to carry out the activities

For the sustainability framework as applied here, only certificates and statements issued by CABs that are officially recognised by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy are considered valid. The Dutch Emissions Authority (NEa) is responsible for monitoring this private system of sustainability certification, and for the activities performed by CABs.

Application for recognition to perform the activities

As a CAB, you may apply to for the recognition of a certification scheme and/or for performing the activities related to the Verification Protocol. You can do this by sending an email to duurzaamheidbiomassa@rvo.nl.

The basic condition for obtaining this recognition is that you must hold accreditation for activities related to an approved scheme and/or the Verification Protocol. In case of accreditation for the activities related to the Verification Protocol, accreditation can be requested from the Dutch Accreditation Council (RvA). In case of activities relating to an approved certification scheme, the corresponding accreditation is also assessed as part of the recognition procedure.
 
The conditions for the recognition of a CAB are laid down in the Besluit conformiteitsbeoordeling vaste biomassa voor energietoepassingen (Decree on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications).

Scheme managers

Only certification schemes that are fully or partially approved by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy may be used to demonstrate the sustainability of the biomass.

As a scheme manager, you may submit an application for approval. You can do this by sending an email to duurzaamheidbiomassa@rvo.nl.

The Advisory Committee on the Sustainability of Biomass for Energy Applications advises the Minister on the approval of certification schemes. On their website, you will find more about this procedure, which is an important part of the approval process.

Approval is granted based on the most up-to-date set of documents relating to the scheme. Any new scheme documents must be sent to duurzaamheidbiomassa@rvo.nl for approval.

Approved schemes

The table gives an overview of the certification schemes approved by the Minister. The decisions in the far right-hand column form the legal basis for the approvals, rather than the table itself. All the other entries in the table are only intended for providing further clarification.

Approved schemes
Schemes and useable claims Approved document versions Geographical scope Applicability Approval decision1
ATFS
(ATFS certified)
ATFS VS Category 1,2 partially approved 20-09-2018
      Additional scheme
documents to approval
29-07-2021
      Additional scheme
documents to approval
16-03-2022
      Additional scheme
documents to approval
10-01-2023
      Additional scheme
documents to approval
10-10-2023
Better Biomass
(Better Biomass certified)
BB Worldwide Category 1-5 partially approved 05-11-2018
      Category 1-5 addition to approval 16-04-2019
      Category 1-5 addition to approval 21-09-2020
      Category 1-5 addition to approval 08-02-2022
      Additional scheme
documents to approval
28-12-2023
Bonsucro2 Bonsucro3 Worldwide Category 5, partially approved 16-07-2020
FSC4
(International)
(FSC 100% en FSC controlled wood)
FSC int.5 FSC V5 countries6 Category 1,2 partially approved 05-11-2018
      Additional schemes to approval 19-12-2019
      Additional schemes to approval 20-04-2020
      Additional schemes to approval 06-04-2021
      Additional schemes to approval 03-02-2022
FSC USA
(FSC 100% en FSC controlled wood)
FSC US5 VS7 Category 1,2 partially approved 19-12-2019
FSC SA (SGS Qualifor)
(FSC 100%)
FSC SA5 South Africa Category 1,2 partially approved 13-10-21
GGL
(GGL certified (RBA) and GGL certified and GGL controlled)
GGL Worldwide Category 5 partially approved 24-01-2019
      Extension of approval
Category 1-4 see approval
08-10-2019
      Additional scheme documents to approval 20-05-2020
      Additional scheme documents to approval 01-10-2021
SBP8
(SBP compliant en SBP controlled)
SBP Worldwide Category 1-4 (CoC) and category 5, partially approved 20-09-2018
SBP9
(NL SDE compliant (ID2D))
  Worldwide Extensions of approval Category 1-4 24-01-2019
SBP10
(NL SDE compliant (ID2E))
(NL SDE controlled (ID2D))
(NL SDE controlled (ID2E))
  Worldwide Extension of approval, category 1,2 partially approved 19-12-2019
      Additional scheme documents to approval 20-04-2020
      Additional scheme documents to approval 16-07-2020
      Additional scheme documents to approval 17-11-2020
      Additional scheme documents to approval 05-01-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 24-01-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 12-04-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 29-04-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 06-07-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 16-08-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 02-11-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 01-12-2021
      Additional scheme documents to approval 24-01-2022
      Additional scheme documents to approval 30-05-2022
      Additional scheme documents to approval 24-02-2023
      Additional scheme documents to approval 24-07-2023
      Additional scheme documents to approval 22-12-2023
      Additional scheme documents to approval, 
reduction of approval category 3,4, and 
reduction of approval category  2 RBA
15-01-2024
SFI11
(SFI certified forest content)
SFI US and Canada Category 1,2 partially approved 18-03-2019
      Additional scheme documents for approval 10-10-2019
      Additional scheme documents for approval 05-06-2020
      Additional scheme documents for approval 10-03-2020
      Additional scheme documents for approval and reduction of approval, category 1,2 01-11-2023
SFI
(SFI certified forest content)
  Worldwide Extension of approval, category 1, partially approved 01-11-2023
SFI
(SFI recycled content)
  Worldwide Extension of approval, category 5, partially approved 01-11-2023
ISCC Solid Biomass NL12
(ISCC solid biomass NL compliant)
ISCC Worldwide Category 1-5 partially approved 16-07-2019
      Additional scheme documents to approval 17-07-2023

    Scheme documents mentioned in the approval decisions can be downloaded from the websites of these schemes, or can be requested for by sending an email to: duurzaamheidbiomassa@rvo.nl.
    1 This column refers to the original decision with an overview of the sustainability criteria covered.
    2 The approval for Bonsucro for SDE requires certification against the document 'SCH-Bonsucro-additional-requirements-bagasse-Netherlands'. Besides that, it is currently impossible to grant recognition to CBIs that do certification work for Bonsucro, because up until now, the Bonsucro certification scheme does not facilitate its CBIs to receive accreditation by an independent third institute that provides the same protection level as provided by national accreditation (see article 3 of Decree).
    3 Since December 2021, the new Bonsucro standard has been published which certificate holders have been using since then. This new standard has not been approved by the minister. Currently, it cannot be guaranteed that the entire supply chain up to the energy producer only uses the old, approved standard (Bonsucro Certification Protocol Version 6). For this reason, currently Bonsucro can no longer be used to demonstrate biomass sustainability under the SDE++ scheme.
    4 The approval relates to the 'FSC 100%' and 'FSC Controlled Wood' claims. The 'FSC Mix' claim and 'FSC Credit' claim cannot be used on the conformity year statement for sustainable forest management.
    5 In 2023 FSC published multiple updated versions of approved scheme documents which certificate holders have been using since then. These updated scheme documents have not yet been approved by the minister. Currently, it cannot be guaranteed that the entire supply chain up to the energy producer only uses the old, approved scheme documents. For this reason, currently FSC Int, FSC US and FSC SA can no longer be used to demonstrate biomass sustainability under the SDE++ scheme.
    6 Download the current list of FSC V5 countries. This geographical restriction only applies to FSC 100%. FSC COC and 'FSC Controlled Wood' are applicable worldwide. Be aware that the scope of the scheme in a FSC V5 country can be applicable to plantations, natural forests or both. This scope can be found on the above-mentioned FSC V5 list.
    7 The geographical scope is the United states: limited to the 48 consecutive states (so not Alaska or Hawaii).
    8 This concerns an SBP Chain of Custody approval, where a combination with Instruction Document 5D is a requirement for SDE+/SDE++. See the decision for an explanation. As soon as the economic operator is certified against Instruction document 5E, this additional requirement no longer applies.
    9 This concerns an SBP group management approval, where a combination with Instruction Document 2D is a requirement for SDE+/SDE++. See the decision for an explanation.
    10 This concerns several approvals: for controlled wood in group certification, only in combination with certification for Instruction document 2D, and for the risk based approach, only in case the economic operator is certified against Instruction document 5E.
    11 This concerns the claim 'SFI certified forest content'. This approval does not concern the claim 'SFI Certified Sourcing'. 'SFI certified forest content' cannot be used to show compliance to Dutch controlled biomass.
    12 To this day there are no CABs recognized by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy for the ISCC Solid Biomass NL scheme. For this reason, currently ISCC Solid Biomass NL can no longer be used to demonstrate biomass sustainability under the SDE++ scheme.

    Cumulative overview of approved sustainability criteria per biomass category (in Dutch)

    Certification schemes pending approval

    On the website of the Advisory Committee on the Sustainability of Biomass for Energy Applications, you can see an overview of the schemes that are pending approval.

    30% REDII-certified biomass

    The revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII) sets a European target for the generation of more sustainable energy. The SDE(++) scheme has been updated to take REDII into account as of 1 January 2022. Energy producers who applied for an SDE(++) subsidy after 21 December 2018 can no longer use controlled biomass. Instead, they may use at most 30% REDII-certified forest biomass. Energy producers who applied for an SDE(++) subsidy before 21 December 2018 are not affected by this change.

    Verification Protocol

    A new version of the Verification Protocol applies as of 1 January 2023. This protocol includes the amendments to Dutch legislation as a consequence of the entry into force of REDII. These affect installations that received a decision on their application for an SDE(++) subsidy after December 2018. You can find the Verification Protocol pellets 2023 at the bottom of this page.

    To prepare the conformity year statement for energy supplied in 2023, you must refer to the January 2023 version of the Verification Protocol for Sustainable Solid Biomass for Energy Applications.

    Recognised CABs

    CABs that wish to issue certificates or verification statements must be approved for these tasks within the framework of the Besluit en de Regeling conformiteitsbeoordeling vaste biomassa voor energietoepassingen (Decree and Regulation on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications).

    The table below displays an overview of the CABs recognised by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The decisions in the far right-hand column form the legal basis for the recognitions, rather than the table itself.

    Overview of recognised CABs
    Name Scheme Decision
    Nepcon SBP 22 November 2018
      FSC 4 December 2018
    Control Union SBP 22 November 2018
      FSC 4 December 2018
      Verificatieprotocol 4 December 2018
      GGL 21 February 2019
    SCS SBP 22 November 2018
      FSC 21 February 2019
    QS Better Biomass 4 December 2018
    Bureau Veritas ATFS 21 February 2019
      SFI 5 June 2020
    NSF ATFS 21 February 2019
      SFI 6 February 2020
    PWC ATFS 21 February 2019
      SFI 13 February 2020
    Dekra Better Biomass 25 March 2019
    KPMG SFI 14 January 2020
    DNV GL SBP 18 March 2020
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