(Drax Biomass Inc. (英國Drax集團子公司)位於美國南部的木顆粒造粒廠/圖片來源:Drax Biomass Inc.官網)

木顆粒在推廣階段,最為大眾質疑的問題之一是砍伐森林製成木顆粒燃燒,是真的永續嗎?本文將以歐洲推動木顆粒永續性認證的經驗,探討臺灣在推動生質能產業的啟示。

如同先前文章所討論 (什麼是生質能?),生質能料源是來自於生物體中任何有機物質,歐盟將生質能定義為「來自產品、廢棄物、以及農業(包括農作物與動物)、林業、漁業與水產養殖等相關產業之剩餘資材,工業與都市廢棄物亦包含在內」(參考文獻1)。

若從以上定義的角度來分析全球最大生質能電廠Drax對「剩餘資材」(residues)的定義,美國NGO組織Dogwood Alliance指出,事實上,Drax電廠所使用的剩餘資材約占美國南部地區的森林皆伐(clear-cut)面積的70%(參考文獻2)因此,我們如何相信其生質能是來自永續性來源?另一個證據是作為英國Drax電廠的主要木柴供應商美國Enviva公司,Dogwood Alliance 質疑Enviv如何可以讓大眾信服在高度生物多樣性的沿岸進行森林皆伐,具有永續性?以上這些質疑都與永續性認證的制定流程有關。

永續性認證Sustainability Certifications

各國有不同的生質能認證,本文將著重介紹由Drax與6家歐洲電力公司(包括DONG energy, e-on, engie, HOFOR, RWE and VATTENFALL)所共同創立的永續性生質能計畫(Sustainable Biomass Program,簡稱SBP),這項原本為了木顆粒認證而發展出來的單一泛歐永續性認證系統,目前亦擴展至木屑認證標準。

從SBP所涵蓋的內容來看,包含6項標準(參考文獻3):

  1. 原料標準:確保原料合法與永續性所需的管理系統原則、標準及指標定義;
  2. 符合SBP標準的原料驗證:評估原料相關風險的方法;
  3. 認證系統:認證機構驗證SBP證書持有者遵守情況之要求;
  4. 產銷監管鏈:出示對認證材料進行保管、控制及轉讓的文件要求;
  5. 資料收集與交流:供應鏈資料收集與交流方法;
  6. 能源與碳平衡計算:發電者之能源及碳平衡計算要求。

SBP認證強調木顆粒與木屑生產者及生質燃料貿易商須經過獨立的第三方認證機構的嚴格評估,獲得SBP認證後,申請人必須通過年度監督審核,並且必須每5年更新一次SBP認證。(參考文獻4)

SBP最為外界詬病的是,SBP成員拒絕木顆粒生產者積極參與認證制度的發展,最有可能的原因是SBP的合作夥伴為了保持及維持對SBP制度的控制權,並使SBP具有壟斷地位,使他們能夠在木顆粒產業占有優勢。

因此,歐洲各能源公司為了證明生質燃料符合永續性標準,必須聘用外部顧問以提供包括所有生質能環境負荷報告,或通過自願性認證計畫進行認證。Biofuelwatch指出SBP為目前英國唯一承認木顆粒認證的獨佔機構。(參考文獻5)

小結

以上這些問題背後隱含的意義為何?Drax想當然爾已獲得所有美國木顆粒供應商SBP認證,但核心問題是,SBP的標準與規範是由營利公司為了營利公司目的所制定,這些標準及規範為SBP成員提供他們想要與所需的商業活動的品質保證。對於其他可能會成為SBP成員的競爭對手公司(如:Draw),這類特殊認證使得他們相對於經SBP認證的公司,經營處於相對劣勢。

面對以上這些商業世界逐利的本質,我們期待有越來越多為了追溯及永續性而實施的認證監管及計算制度,因為這才是促進生質能產業健全發展的核心。為了實現這個目的,須要透過真正的第三方機構以更公平及更準確的方式來衡量木顆粒與木屑之永續性,以達到保護生物多樣性與能源供給的主要目標

(責任翻譯:吳周燕)

 


DRAX, Biomass and Sustainability

As discussed before, biomass refers to any organic matter derived from organisms which are or recently were alive. In the context of energy, the EU defines biomass as “the biodegradable fraction of products, waste and residues from biological origin from agriculture (including vegetal and animal substances), forestry and related industries including fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the biodegradable fraction of industrial and municipal waste” [1].

Going along with this definition we face an issue when looking at Drax’s definition of ‘residues’. The US conservation NGO Dogwood Alliance highlights that Drax ‘residues’ actually accounts for 70% of clear-cut forest in the southern US [2]. Therefore, what can we believe when it comes to sustainable biomass. Especially sustainable wood pellets, when we are given examples of how Enviva (Drax’s main US supplier of wood) is sourcing its wood for the purpose of wood pellet creation from clearcutting of highly biodiverse coastal wetland forests.

Sustainability Certifications

There’s many different biomass certifications that exist but the one we will focus one is the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) co-founded by Drax and 6 European power companies (DONG energy, e-on, engie, HOFOR, RWE and VATTENFALL). This single pan-European sustainability certification system was developed for wood pellets and now also extends to wood chips.

Let’s look at what the SBP entails, the framework includes six standards:

  1. Feedstock Compliance Standard: the principles, criteria and indicators defining the management system needed to verify that feedstock is legal and sustainable;
  2. Verification of SBP-compliant Feedstock: the method for the evaluation of the risk associated with feedstock;
  3. Certification Systems: the requirements on certification bodies in verifying compliance by SBP certificate holders;
  4. Chain of Custody: the requirements for documentation showing custody, control, and transfer of certified material;
  5. Collection and Communication of Data: the methodology for collection and communication of data along the supply chain; and
  6. Energy and Carbon Balance Calculation: requirements for generators regarding energy and carbon balance calculations. [3]

The SBP certification highlights that wood pellet and wood chip producers and biomass traders undergo rigorous assessment carried out by an independent, third party certification body.  After obtaining their SBP certification, applicants must pass annual surveillance audits and must renew their SBP certification every five years. [4]

One of the most intriguing aspect of this certification is the SBP members refusal of making wood pellets producers actively participate in the development of the certification. The most likely reason behind this, is the fact that SBP’s partners retain and maintain absolute control over the SBP framework, making it a monopoly of some sort. Making them the absolute authority over the wood pellet industry.

Consequently, energy companies needing to prove compliance with sustainable standard either must hire consultant to provide reports on all biomass loads or get certified by an accredited voluntary certification scheme. Interestingly, Biofuelwatch highlights that the only recognized scheme in accord with the UK legislation is the Sustainable Biomass Partnership. [5]  

What does this entail?  Drax of course, has been granted SBP certificate for all their wood pellet mills in the US. The issues with this is that the standards and rules created by the for-profit companies for the for-profit companies guarantee the SBP members the certificate they want and need to do business. Whilst other companies that may or could be rivals to companies’ part of the SBP such as Draw are denied this particular certification making them ‘inferior’ to the SBP certificated companies.

This is a complicated instance, as more certificate monitoring and accounting for traceability and sustainability is central to the biomass industry but for this to happen we need a fairer and more accurate way to measure sustainability of wood pellets and wood chips by a truly third neutral party with its main goal protecting our biodiversity and energy supply.

 

Reference

  1. Renewable Energy Directive, article 2e, available at: here
  2. Biofuelwatch report Biomass: The Chain of Destruction, available at: here
  3. Wood Pellet Association of Canada, available at: here
  4. The Sustainable Biomass Partnership Certification, available at: here
  5. The Sustainable Biomass Partnership Certification, available at: here
Print Friendly, PDF & Email