Biomass is the only renewable, affordable energy source available on-demand. European countries need to make sure it is sourced sustainably, writes Philip Lowe, non-executive director of the UK Competition and Markets Authority and previously with the European Commission.
European member states have made huge strides towards a competitive low-carbon economy. Yet further progress towards a low-cost, low-carbon energy mix is being undermined by a failure to meet the third key energy challenge: security of supply.
Sustainable biomass is the only renewable, affordable energy source that is currently capable for both baseload and flexible generation. It provides a stable platform that can support intermittent renewable technologies, and help fill the space created by outgoing fossil fuels.
Biomass is a necessary and complementary part of a diverse low-carbon mix – alongside gas, wind, solar and others – which feeds the grid.
But, he writes, it is crucial that forest biomass is sourced sustainably. The European Commission has issued recommendations on sustainability criteria and a number of member states have developed binding legislation to ensure that high standards of forestry are enforced wherever they source biomass for energy.