Canadian Biomass Magazine

Europe’s 2030 Targets

March 24, 2015
By Gordon Murray

March 26, 2015 - Using a track and field metaphor, Europe has lapped North America in the race to reduce global warming and develop clean renewable energy. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) provides the so-called 20-20-20 targets that mandate 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a 1995 base level; 20 per cent reduction in energy consumption; and for 20 per cent of energy to be renewable. This has resulted in Europe becoming the largest global wood pellet market, accounting for 80 per cent of consumption, far ahead of second place, U.S., and third place, South Korea.  

Now that we are approaching 2020, the European Commission (EC) has turned its attention to developing new climate and energy policies from 2020 to 2030. The EC has proposed new 2030 targets including 40 per cent GHG reduction, 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption and a 27 per cent share of renewable energy.

The EC is now researching ways to achieve these 2030 targets. One initiative being funded by the EC’s Intelligent Energy Europe program is the BioTrade2020plus project being conducted by a consortium of universities and research institutions:

  • National Renewable Energy Centre, Biomass Department, Spain
  • Imperial College London, Centre for Environmental Policy, United Kingdom
  • Alterra, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
  • International Institute for Sustainability Analysis and Strategy GmbH, Germany
  • Flemish Institute for Technological Research, Belgium
  • Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences, Energy & Resources, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, The Netherlands
  • WIP Renewable Energies, Germany

BioTrade2020plus aims to provide guidelines for the development of a European Bioenergy Trade Strategy for 2020 and beyond. The project is meant to ensure that imported biomass feedstock is sustainably sourced and used in an efficient way, while avoiding distortion of non-energy markets. This is to be accomplished by analyzing the potential key sustainability risks of current and future lignocellulosic biomass and bioenergy carriers. The focus is on wood chips, pellets, torrefied biomass and pyrolysis oil from current and potential future major sourcing regions of the world: Canada, U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

BioTrade2020plus is meant to provide support to the use of stable, sustainable, competitively priced, and resource-efficient flows of imported biomass feedstock to the EU – a necessary pre-requisite for the development of the bio-based economy in Europe. In order to achieve this objective the consortium is cooperating closely with other international initiatives such as IEA Bioenergy Task 40: Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade – Securing Supply and Demand and European projects such as Biomass Policies, S2BIOM, Biomass Trade Centers, DIA-CORE, and PELLCERT.

A multi-stakeholder, multi-country advisory board supports the BioTrade2020plus consortium. Board members were chosen from the pellet sector, the European power sector, the South American sugar cane industry, African renewable energy interests, environmental NGOs, academia, and the EU’s Joint Research Centre. I am the sole board member representing the interests of the pellet sector. This is of vital interest because BioTrade2020plus’ policy recommendations have the potential to directly impact wood pellet trade from Canada. Some of the advisory board members representing environmental NGO’s are opposed to bioenergy, so my counter voice is needed. Also, a practical voice is needed to temper the input from academic board members.

In addition to the advisory board, consortium members have invited interested parties to join three working groups to solicit input and share information. These include:

  • WG1: Biomass importers and end users
  • WG2: Biomass producers and exporters
  • WG3: Long-term strategies and support frameworks

History shows that biomass policy has been a vital driver of the development of the European pellet market. While we have had a few hiccups along the way, most of us are optimistic that the RED will continue to enable impressive growth through to the end of this decade. Now, for our business to succeed for the long term – from 2020 and beyond – our participation in the BioTrade2020plus project is essential to ensure that the European Commission is properly informed as it develops the next generation of biomass policy. 

Gordon Murray is executive director of the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. He encourages all those who want to support and benefit from the growth of the Canadian wood pellet industry to join. Gordon welcomes all comments and can be contacted by telephone at 250-837-8821 or by email at




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