Do you wish to use solid biomass to generate electricity and heat? Are you interested in applying for a subsidy under the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production (SDE+) scheme to this end? It’s possible! In some cases it is required to demonstrate sustainability of the biomass used for energy producing. Read the text below to find out how.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) requires you to demonstrate that the biomass used meets the applicable legal sustainability criteria. This applies to the following categories:
- co-firing and co-gasification of biomass in power stations;
- wood pellet steam boiler ≥ 5 MW;
- wood pellet burner ≥ 5 MWth and ≤ 100 MWe;
- wood pellet boiler for district heating (added in 2019).
Other types of installations such as those mentioned in the Allocation Regulation for SDE Categories (Aanwijzingsregeling SDE-categorieën) are not subject to these sustainability criteria. How do I demonstrate that the biomass used comes from sustainable sources? You can do this by 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;
- only verification.
Ultimately, it is important to ensure 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.
You can demonstrate that the biomass complies with sustainability criteria by:
- submitting an annual report to RVO.nl 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 an 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. More information about the role and requirements of CABs can be found in the relevant section.
All relevant information throughout 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 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.
Are you eligible for an SDE+ subsidy? If so, you will receive an advance from RVO.nl annually. We deduct this advance from the actual subsidy amount you are entitled to, based on the information in the report submitted by you to RVO.nl. You may produce energy using biomass whose sustainability has not been demonstrated or is insufficiently demonstrated. However, please note that no subsidy shall be provided for the energy produced from this type of biomass.
CABs play a role in demonstrating the sustainability of biomass. They are authorised to perform three types of activities:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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 aforementioned activities
For the sustainability framework as applied here, only certificates and statements issued by CABs officially recognised by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy shall be considered valid.
The Dutch Emissions Authority (NEa) is responsible for monitoring this private system of sustainability certification, and therefore also the activities performed by CABs.
Application for recognition to perform the activities
As a CAB, you may apply to RVO.nl for recognition for a certification scheme and/or for performing the activities related to the Verification Protocol. You can do this by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
The Advisory Committee on the Sustainability of Biomass for Energy Applications (ADBE) advises the Minister regarding the approval of certification schemes. On the ADBE website, you will find more information about the advisory procedure. This advisory procedure 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 RVO.nl, so they can assess the possible impact of these documents on the previously granted approval.
The table below gives an overview of the certification schemes approved by the Minister. The decisions in the last column form the legal basis for the approvals, rather than the table itself. Some of the entries in the table are clickable links, only intended for providing further clarification about the applicability.
|Name||Documents||Geographical scop||Susainability criteria5||Decision|
|ATFS||zip - file||USA||Categories 1 and 2, partially approved, see decision||20 September 2018|
|Better Biomass||zip - file||Worldwide||Categories 1 through 5, partially approved, see decision||5 November 2018|
|FSC1||zip - file||FSC V5 countries2||Categories 1 and 2, partially approved, see decision||5 November 2018|
|GGL||zip - file||Worldwide||Categorie 5, partially approved, see decision||24 January 2019|
|SBP3||zip - file||Worldwide||Categories 1 through 5, partially approved, see decision||20 September 2018|
|SBP4||zip - file||Worldwide||Categories 1 through 4, partially approved, see decision||24 January 2019|
|SFI6||VS and Canada||Categories 1 and 2, partially approved, see decission||18 March 2019|
|ISCC Solid Biomass NL||Worldwide||Categories 1 through 5, partially approved, see decision||16 July 2019|
1 The approval relates to the "FSC 100%" and "FSC Controlled Wood" claims. The "FSC Mix" claim may also be used, but this is regarded as a combination of the "FSC 100%" and "FSC Controlled Wood" claims. "FSC Credit" is not approved. See the decision for an explanation.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 This column refers to the original decision with an overview of the sustainability criteria covered.
6 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
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.
From 1 January 2019 onwards, CABs that wish to issue certificates or verification statements must be approved for these tasks within the framework of the Decree and Regulation on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications (Besluit en de Regeling conformiteitsbeoordeling vaste biomassa voor energietoepassingen).
The table below displays an overview of the CBAs recognised by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. The decisions in the last column form the legal basis for the recognitions, rather than the table itself.
|Nepcon||SBP||22 November 2018|
|FSC||4 December 2018|
|Control Union||SBP||22 November 2018|
|FSC||4 December 2018|
|Verification Protocol||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|
|NSF||ATFS||21 February 2019|
|Dekra||Better Biomass||25 March 2019|
Exception in 2019
The implementation process for the new legislation that entered into force on 1 January 2019 took longer during the transition year 2018 than anticipated. In the letter to Parliament of 21 December 2018, the Minister writes that, due to this delay, inadequately 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 General Regulations Implementing the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production Scheme (Algemene uitvoeringsregeling stimulering duurzame energieproductie).
|Scheme name||Geographical scope||Technical||Decision|
|FSC*||WW||All forest criteria (corresponding to Principles 3-11)||N/A|
|PEFC||WW||All forest criteria (corresponding to Principles 3-11)|
*FSC: excl. FSC Mixed Credit
For schemes that are only approved for 2019, no separate CABs will be recognised. 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 above-mentioned Regulation. 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).
Moreover, 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 purchased and incinerated in 2019.
- Decree on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications
- Regulation on the Conformity Assessment of Solid Biomass for Energy Applications
- General Regulations Implementing the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production Scheme
- Frequently asked questions regarding biomass (Dutch only)
- Page in Dutch
- Biomass SDE+
- Letter to Parliament of 21 December 2018