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Producing heat, power and liquid transport fuels from biomass instead of fossil fuels has the potential to offer a wide range of environmental and socioeconomic benefits. However these benefits can only be realised if biomass feedstock is sourced responsibly and takes into account impacts on life cycle carbon emissions, land use change, soil, water and air quality and the living conditions of those involved in the supply chain.

A considerable body of work exists on the development, implementation and effectiveness of sustainability and certification schemes. A selection is presented here

Timber standards for heat and electricity

Timber Standard to set out how the Sustainable Forest Management Criteria will apply to the use of woodfuel under the Renewable Heat Incentive and Renewables Obligation, published by DECC. (PDF – 320 kB)

UK Bioenergy Strategy supplementary note: Carbon impacts of forest biomass

This note aims to assist with the interpretation of the carbon impacts analysis set out in the UK Bioenergy Strategy (April 2012). The note presents questions and answers to some of the key technical issues raised by stakeholders in this field and is supplementary to the supporting documents available on the DECC website

BEC comments on “Dirtier than coal” report

In 2012 Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Greenpeace published a document suggesting that biomass for electrical power generation is “dirtier than coal”. The Biomass Energy Centre was asked to comment on this report, and the US paper on which it is based. (PDF – 195 kB)

Biomass sustainability studies

Biomass: Carbon sink or carbon sinner

A report by the Environment Agency about carbon balances of biomass fuels. (PDF -64 kB)

Are biofuels sustainable

A report by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. (PDF – 2.2 MB)

Forestry and biomass certification schemes

Report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid and gaseous biomass sources in electricity, heating and cooling

Report from the European Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. (PDF – 163 kB)

Renewables Obligation: Sustainability criteria

Information and guidance from Ofgem on the sustainability criteria for the Renewables Obligation (RO).

Woodfuel Advice Note v2

Guidance from BEIS on how to comply with the land criteria for woody biomass for the Renewables Obligation, Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Contracts for Difference (CfD).

Renewables Obligation: Sustainability criteria for bioliquids

Information and guidance from Ofgem on the sustainability criteria for bioliquids for the Renewables Obligation.

Sustainability criteria & certification systems for biomass production

Biomass Technology Group 2008.(PDF -2.2 MB)

UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS)

The fourth edition of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard, an independent certification standard for verifying sustainable woodland management in the United Kingdom. This fourth edition was effective from 1st April 2018. The UK Woodland Assurance Scheme is the certification standard for verifying sustainable forest management used by both the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). (PDF – 5.0 MB)

Pathways to sustainability

An Evaluation of Forestry Programs to Meet European Biomass Supply Chain Requirements. A report from the US Environmental Defense Fund assessing the ability of US forestry programmes to meet the sustainability requirements of EU countries. (PDF – 2.9 MB)

The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS)

The UK Forestry Standard sets out the Government’s approach to UK forest management.

Sustainable Bioenergy: A framework for decision makers

A briefing document from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Publications from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Bioenergy Programme

Including: Sustainable bioenergy use: a clear path to biodiversity and sustainable economic development

Bioenergy Europe (formerly known as AEBIOM), the European Biomass Association, has a number of factsheets, including:

Sustainable Bioenergy: a reliable, secure, and affordable source of energy to decarbonize the EU’s economy

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