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Sustainability criteria for solid biomass under the SDE+ scheme

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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. 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. co-firing and co-gasification of biomass in power stations;
  2. wood pellet steam boiler ≥ 5 MW;
  3. wood pellet burner ≥ 5 MWth and ≤ 100 MWe;
  4. wood pellet boiler for district heating (added in 2019).

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

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 on the sustainability characteristics of all consignments of solid biomass used in your installation, for which a standard format and guide is available on mijn.rvo.nl;
  • providing a conformity year statement along with this report, where this statement must be issued by a recognised Conformity Assessment Body (CAB).

The requirements to be met by the conformity year statement and the verification method to be applied are set out in the Verification Protocol for Sustainability of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications.

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+ 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+ 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 duurzaamheidvastebiomassa@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 duurzaamheidvastebiomassa@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 duurzaamheidvastebiomassa@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 claimsApproved document versionsGeographical scopeApplicabilityApproval decision1
ATFS
(ATFS certified)
ATFSVSCategory 1,2 partially approved20-09-2018
Better Biomass
(Better Biomass certified)
BBWorldwideCategory 1-5 partially approved05-11-2018
Category 1-5 addition to approval16-04-2019
Bonsucro2BonsucroWorldwideCategory 5, partially approved16-07-2020
FSC3
(International)
(FSC 100% en FSC controlled wood)
FSC int.FSC V5 countries4Category 1,2 partially approved05-11-2018
Additional schemes to approval19-12-2019
Additional schemes to approval20-04-2020
FSC USA
(FSC 100% en FSC controlled wood)
FSC US VS5Category 1,2 partially approved19-12-2019
GGL
(GGL certified (RBA) and GGL certified and GGL controlled)
GGL WorldwideCategory 5 partially approved24-01-2019
Extension of approval
Category 1-4 see approval
08-10-2019
Additional scheme documents to approval20-05-2020
SBP6
(SBP compliant en SBP controlled)
SBP WorldwideCategory 1-5 partially approved20-09-2018
SBP7
(NL SDE compliant (ID2D))
 WorldwideExtensions of approval Category 1-424-01-2019
SBP8
(NL SDE compliant (ID2E))
(NL SDE controlled (ID2D))
 WorldwideExtension of approval, category 1,2 partially approved19-12-2019
Additional scheme documents to approval20-04-2020
Additional scheme documents to approval16-07-2020
SFI9
(SFI certified forest content)
SFIUS and CanadaCategory 1,2 partially approved18-03-2019
Additional scheme for approval10-10-2019
Additional scheme for approval05-06-2020
ISCC Solid Biomass NL
(ISCC solid biomass NL compliant)
ISCCWorldwideCategory 1-5 partially approved16-07-2019

 

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: duurzaamheidvastebiomassa@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'.
3 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 
4 The current list of FSC V5 countries can be downloaded here. This geographical restriction only applies to FSC 100%. FSC COC and 'FSC Controlled Wood' are applicable worldwide.
5 The geographical scope is the United states: limited to the 48 consecutive states (so not Alaska or Hawaii).
6 This concerns an SBP Chain of Custody approval, where a combination with Instruction Document 5D is a requirement for 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.
7 This concerns an SBP group management approval, where a combination with Instruction Document 2D is a requirement for SDE+. See the decision for an explanation.
8 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.
9 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.

* Exclusively for 2019 and in addition to the approved schemes in the above table, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has provided an additional option for demonstrating the sustainability of the used biomass. More information about this can be found under the heading 'Exception in 2019'.

Cumulative overview of approved sustainability criteria per biomass category

Categories 1 and 2 (pdf)
Controlled biomass (pdf)
Categories 3 and 4 (pdf)
Category 5 (pdf)
Category 2 risk-based (pdf)

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.

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 CBAs 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

NameSchemeDecision
NepconSBP22 November 2018
FSC4 December 2018
Control UnionSBP22 November 2018
FSC4 December 2018
Verification Protocol4 December 2018
GGL21 February 2019
SCSSBP22 November 2018
FSC21 February 2019
QSBetter Biomass4 December 2018
Bureau VeritasATFS21 February 2019
SFI5 June 2020
NSFATFS21 February 2019
SFI6 February 2020
PWCATFS

21 February 2019

SFI13 February 2020
DekraBetter Biomass25 March 2019
KPMGSFI14 January 2020
DNV GLSBP18 March 2020

Exception for 2019

The implementation process for the new legislation took longer than anticipated. In the letter to Parliament of 21 December 2018, the Minister writes that, due to this delay, an inadequately amount of approved biomass is expected to become available in 2019.

This inadequacy is not related to the degree of sustainability of the biomass, but the method of demonstrating this sustainability and the availability and implementation of recently approved certification schemes.

That is why the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has provided, exclusively for 2019, the additional possibility of using the same two certificates in 2019 that were also used in 2018 for the purchase of sustainable wood (FSC, PEFC) for demonstrating sustainable forest management. This has been done to provide the supply chain with an opportunity to comply with the new legislation.

The table below is a result of Section 7(4) of the Algemene uitvoeringsregeling stimulering duurzame energieproductie (General Regulations Implementing the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production Scheme).

Table with additional usable certification schemes

Scheme nameGeographical scopeTechnicalDecision
FSC*WorldwideAll forest criteria (corresponding to Principles 3-11)N/A
PEFCWorldwideAll forest criteria (corresponding to Principles 3-11)N/A

*FSC: excl. FSC Mixed Credit

No separate CABs will be recognised for schemes that are only acceptable for 2019. This means that, even though a CAB does not need to be recognised, it will still need to be accredited in accordance with the scheme requirements to be qualified to issue the relevant certificates.

This additional option for 2019 only applies to the demonstration of sustainability for the forest criteria as referred to in the  Regulation mentioned earlier. This exception does not apply to the other sustainability criteria in the Regulation, corresponding to Principles of 1-2 and 12-13 of the Decree and Regulation on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications.

The conformity year statement for 2019 that will report on this type of biomass, must still be drawn up by a recognised CAB. This biomass must no longer appear on the conformity year statement for 2020. That means that this biomass will have to be bought and incinerated in 2019.

Verification Protocol review

From 1 July until 12 September, we will review the January 2020 version of the ‘Verification Protocol for Sustainable Solid Biomass for Energy Applications’. If you have used this Verification Protocol and have suggestions for improvement, send an email to duurzaamheidvastebiomassa@rvo.nl. We will then send you the review form.

Downloads

The updated Verification Protocol (version January 2020) can be downloaded below. Most changes compared to the VP version December 2017 can be found in paragraph 2.6, the start of chapter 5 and paragraph 7.2.

Appendixes 1-3 of the VP, referred to by sustainability requirement 1.1, CO2 emission reduction, has not been adjusted yet, despite the fact that 1.1 now refers to the RED II documents with different default values. The adjustment of these appendixes in the protocol will take place after the tool Biograce II is adjusted to the RED II values. This is expected by the end of 2020.

At the time of the next update of the VP, expected January 2021, appendixes 1-3 will be update. In the meantime, in 2020, both the values and methodology from the VP, as the values and methodology from RED II may be used for compliance to requirement 1.1.