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The role of biomass in the energy transition

To meet the CO2 reduction targets and to make sure there is always CO2-free capacity available, biomass is the ideal source. RWE is converting its plants in Geertruidenberg and Eemshaven into CO2-neutral plants that run on biomass instead of coal. Power stations ensure continuity in energy supply. And they also run when there is no or less power from wind turbines and solar panels due to changing weather conditions. That is why the replacement of coal by biomass is the necessary, sustainable and flexible back-up in a new energy supply in which energy from wind and sun predominate.

Biomass is a collective term for the biological or vegetable raw material that can be converted into energy. It consists of residues from, for example, forestry or agricultural cultivation or dead plant material from which granules or pellets are made that can easily be fired in a plant. RWE mainly uses wood pellets as biomass, but also investigates new raw materials and applications. Biomass has a short-cycle CO2 emission that does not contribute to the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This means that the burned wood is compensated in a relatively short time by new growth, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Biomass can also be refined to replace oil in chemical processes, and the residual product is useful as feedstock in our power plants. This way, we make better use of biomass, as part of the biobased economy. RWE is involved in projects to develop and stimulate this biobased economy.

Standards in the procurement of certified biomass

RWE works with the highest standards to ensure that only residues are used. For that we negotiated the Covenant on Sustainable Biomass with several NGOs in the Netherlands. The Covenant contains the world’s strictest sustainability criteria on biomass. 

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) is a biomass certification system that assures compliance with sustainability criteria along the entire supply chain for the wood pellets imported by us. RWE has been involved in the SBP initiative from day one. All biomass supplied by our trading company RWE Supply & Trading is SBP certified or has other certification such as GGL or existing forest management schemes, giving assurance that the pellets meet European sustainability standards. We are also Chain-of-Custody certified for these programs.

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