(示意圖/圖片來源:Pixabay)

歐盟有13.5%發電量來自木質生質能,其使用量將隨歐盟再生能源發電目標增加而成長

使用生物資源並非一定對環境有益或比化石能源更好。確認生質能的原料、生產過程及使用方式的永續性極為重要,以正確的方式使用生質能才可能達成環境永續。

根據彭博社(Bloomberg)統計,2015年歐盟再生能源發電占29.9%,其中65%來自生質能,而固態生質能便占了其中的70%,以來自森林剩餘資材的木質生質能為主(詳圖1,。代表歐盟有13.5%發電量來自木質生質能,預計木質生質能的使用量會隨著歐盟所訂定再生能源發電目標而大幅度增加。

(圖片來源:Bloomberg;資料來源:Eurostat)
圖1 歐盟電力供給之燃料來源比例

NGOs與政府官員皆認為,若未限制生質能使用,極可能會破壞環境並加劇氣候變遷

許多非政府組織(NGOs)認為,目前歐盟的政策並沒有考量到生質能所付出的真實成本,如:貿易、投資及氣候變遷。荷蘭非政府組織FERN強調:過度仰賴木質生質能是危險的作法,可能會導致歐洲及其他國家森林同時遭砍伐、生物多樣性消失。FERN並進一步指出,政府應在2020年後限制生質能使用,以達到溫室氣體減量目標。

鳥類保護組織Birdlife也同樣認為,為了達到歐盟再生能源目標,全歐洲必須保護遭砍伐的森林。造成這些疑慮的主因為,根據現行立法,歐洲生質能電廠沒有義務證明其木材來自永續來源。

不僅NGOs對生質能的永續性表示疑慮,Transport&Environment生質燃料運輸及環境部門代表Jori Sihvonen說:「大眾很容易認為所有的生質能源都是永續的,但是我們一次又一次地看到,有些形式的生質能可能會對社會、自然環境造成更糟的影響,可能燒掉了陸地生物燃料、整棵樹,甚至是氣候。」

而2016年11月,歐盟發表影響評估時,在「永續生質能文件」中承認,燃燒森林木材的能源並非碳中和,在某些情況下甚至會增加碳排放量。

遵照國際環保NGOs提出的4個解決要點,生質能仍可被永續地使用

但我們不必太過悲觀,NGOs (包含Actionaid、FERN、Greenpeace、NRDC、Oxfam及其他6個組織)共同編寫的報告中提供了解決方法。在歐盟再生能源政策框架下,2020 – 2030年關於生質能源生產與使用,建議實際去落實生質能永續使用的4個要點(參考文獻6):

  1. 能源用途的生物質必須來自於永續供應鏈;
  2. 遵照階梯式應用原則(the principle of cascading use;註),以最有效、最好的方式利用生物資源;
  3. 可靠和可核查的減碳行動,必須建立在正確的生質能碳排放核算基礎之上;
  4. 政府必須訂定全面性、有約束力的環境及社會永續性標準。

顯然,假如歐盟委員會真的想對抗氣候變遷,成為真正的永續能源領導者,國際環保NGOs提出的解決要點,必須要被正視。

註(譯者補充)

階梯式應用原則(the principle of cascading use)
生物質的利用優先順序,應按照使用方式所產生的附加價值決定。圖2根據附加價值由高至低排序,通常附加價值最高的產量也較少,因此以金字塔圖呈現永續應用概念,依序為醫療、食品、化學品,最後才用於能源。遵照此應用原則可最有效的永續利用生物資源。

(圖片來源:荷蘭 農業、自然與食品部)
圖2 階梯式應用階層圖

(責任翻譯:劉恩廷)
(責任編輯:羅時芳)


Biomass Burning Down European Forests?

The importance lies in ensuring the sustainable production, sourcing and use of biomass for energy. Biomass doesn’t systematically equal benefits for the environment or better than coal, but it can mean that, when done correctly. According to Bloomberg, in 2015, the gross electricity generation from renewables was of 29.9% – and 65% of this came from bioenergy. Solid biomass, makes up 70 per cent of the total bioenergy and this is mainly wood from either forests or residues. [1]

Meaning that a total of 13.5% of EU power generation comes mostly from wood. This number is forecast to largely increase with the targets set by the EU of increasing power production from renewable sources. [2]

The issue at hand is that the policies do not consider the true cost of biomass according to many NGO’s in the like of Fern – who work centres on forests and forest people’s rights and the issues that affect them such as trade and investment and climate change. [3] (FERN website)

Fern highlights the dangers of relying so heavily on wood for energy as it will cause both deforestation and biodiversity loss in Europe (and on a world scale). Fern even go further in stating that post 2020, governments should restrict bioenergy use in order to achieve greenhouse gas reductions. [4]

Birdlife, the conservation group, similarly explains that protected forests are being chopped all over Europe in order to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets. The reasons for those evidently-based worries, is that under the current legislation, European bioenergy plants are under no obligation to produce evidence that their wood is sustainably sourced. Additionally, Jori Sihvonen, the biofuels officer at Transport and Environment states that: “It is easy to fall into thinking that all bioenergy is sustainable, but time and again we see some forms of it can be worse for society, the natural environment and, in the case of burning land-based biofuels or whole trees, even the climate.” Lastly, when looking at the EU’s own impact assessment released in November 2016 within their ‘sustainability biomass paper’, it is acknowledged that burning biomass from wood forest is not carbon neutral and that in some cases it can increase emissions [5].

All may not be gloom and doom, according to a co-written – actionaid, fern, greenpeace, NRDC, Oxfam and 6 other organizations – proposal paper to regulate bioenergy production and use in the EU’s renewable energy policy framework 2020-2030 there are solutions.  They offer four main points which could help in implementing sustainability safeguards in the use of biomass [6].

  1. A limit to the use of biomass for energy production to levels that can be sustainably supplied;
  2. An efficient and optimal use of biomass resources, in line with the principle of cascading use;
  3. Robust and verifiable emission savings on the basis of correct carbon accounting for bioenergy emissions;
  4. A comprehensive, binding set of environmental and social sustainability criteria.

It seems evident that the European commission would be better off considering the main points mentioned before, if it, indeed, wants to combat climate change and become a leader in true environment prone energy.

 

References

  1. Aebiom Statistical Report (2014). Available at: http://www.aebiom.org/library/statistical-reports/statistical-2014/
  2. EU Forest Strategy (2013). Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/forest/strategy/communication_en.pdf
  3. Fern : http://www.fern.org/about-us
  4. Forest Research (2015). Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/EU%20Carbon%20Impacts%20of%20Biomass%20Consumed%20in%20the%20EU%20final.pdf
  5. European Commission (2016), “Sustainability of bioenergy.” Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/1_en_impact_assessment_part4_v4_418.pdf
  6. Fern (2016), “Burning trees is no solution for climate change.” Available at: http://www.fern.org/climate&bioenergy
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