Canadian Biomass Magazine

News Harvesting Sustainability
USIPA welcomes Denmark’s new biomass sustainability requirements


October 6, 2020
By US Industrial Pellet Association

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The US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) welcomes a political agreement that sets into law new sustainability requirements for wood biomass used in Denmark. The new law, which is supported by the Danish government and a majority coalition of eight political parties, replaces a voluntary industry agreement that has regulated sustainable biomass use since 2014.

“Sustainability is paramount to ensuring biomass delivers tangible climate benefits while supporting healthy forests and protecting biodiversity,” said Seth Ginther, USIPA executive director. “We applaud Danish leadership for designing strict, yet workable, criteria that provides important sustainability guarantees, while securing the critical role of biomass in helping Denmark reduce emissions and reach its climate goals.”

Denmark is among the EU’s leading Member States in its transition to a carbon neutral economy. In 2020, more than 37 per cent of its energy production came from renewable sources. Sustainable biomass is the largest contributor to Denmark’s renewable energy mix, and is largely responsible for replacing the use of coal in the electricity and heating sector.

“Biomass is absolutely crucial to ensure that our electricity and heat are not made from coal imported from countries we do not want to depend on,” said Morten Messerschmidt of the Danish People’s Party. “With the agreement we are able to ensure it is sustainable, and that Danes continue to have a stable supply of heat.”

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The new law sets firm sustainability criteria for preserving carbon stocks and carbon sinks in source forests, and for protecting natural areas and biodiversity, among other measures. U.S. producers are able to meet these requirements and have been supplying Member States with sustainable biomass for more than a decade.

Last year, the U.S. exported nearly six million metric tons of biomass to the EU, primarily from its Southeastern states. This region has been the centre of America’s forest products industry since the early 20th century, and is one of the largest and most sustainably-managed wood baskets in the world.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wood volume in this region has increased by 21 per cent since 2000, and southeastern landowners are currently growing 43 per cent more wood than they remove every year. Independent analysis shows this trend is also consistent within the local sourcing areas surrounding multiple biomass production plants.

As noted by forest economists, forest stocks have been increasing in the US Southeast because markets for wood products, like biomass, provide financial incentives for private landowners to keep investing in the continual cycle of thinning, harvesting and replanting trees.