14 November 2016

In all the arguments and debates about trade after Brexit, no-one has raised the possibility that the EU may need to turn to the UK, or other sources, for supplies of cow dung — or at least they hadn’t until green groups began to analyse EU renewables’ targets.

According to BirdLife Europe and Transport & Environment (T&E), sustainable wood waste, agricultural residues, manure and other organic residues generated in the Member States will only cover around 80% of the EU’s projected bioenergy use in 2030.

“How much sustainable biomass does Europe have in 2030?” (www.transportenvironment.org) not only points to a shortage of sustainable biomass for energy, but also to a need to use different sources of bioenergy from those consumed today.

Europe is mainly using wood in various forms to generate energy and biofuels to power transport. However, the analysis shows that sustainable biomass from agricultural and forestry residues would make up only 30% of the amount of renewables needed to meet the EU’s 2030 climate targets.

Jori Sihvonen, bioenergy officer at T&E, said: “Europe should limit the use of bioenergy and instead devote its efforts to promoting sustainable renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal and tidal.”

Sustainably produced wood should be used to build houses, and make furniture and paper, he argued, not burned to make energy.