06 Oct 2022, 14:31
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany’s biomass strategy to focus on sustainable use and climate protection

In a new strategy for biomass use, Germany plans to focus on recycling, efficient decarbonisation solutions, and using it as a material rather than a fuel for energy. The strategy, which will be presented next year and cover the biomass approach until 2030, is being devised to ensure sustainable biomass production and use in Germany, according to the government. The plan will consider the potential of sustainably available biomass, the conservation of natural ecosystems, and the food-first principle. “Even though biomass is of natural origin and is a renewable raw material, its use is not climate and environmentally friendly per se. Biomass is also only available in limited quantities. Therefore, rules are needed for a sustainable approach,” said economy minister Robert Habeck. The paper will address how biofuels fare against the electrification of transport, what role timber can play in the heating sector compared to heat pumps, and identify misaligned incentives for the use of biofuels, the government said.

According to the guidelines for the strategy, priority should be given to material use of biomass – for example as a building material – over energy use. "Biomass use serves climate protection above all when the carbon contained in the biomass remains sequestered in the long term," the guiding principles state, adding that burning biomass for energy releases stored carbon back into the atmosphere. While the government hopes high-quality energy uses of biomass will continue to play a role in the energy transition, the strategy should find the greatest benefits for the environment, the climate and biodiversity. Additionally, the paper will provide a plan for the recycling of biomass for which no further material use is possible, and promote long-term carbon binding. “Responsible and forward-looking use of our natural resources is more important than ever,” said agriculture minister Cem Özdemir. Policymakers, businesses, scientists will now discuss the framework with citizens’ participation. Questions about the short-term role of bioenergy in the context of energy supply security are not the focus of the strategy.

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