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New Danish wood biomass legislation “strict, yet workable”, says USIPA

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Denmark has introduced a new law regarding the use of wood biomass to produce heat and electricity. According to Climate Minister Dan Jørgensen, the new legislation delivers on a promise the government made to ensure biomass used in Denmark is sustainable.

The new legal requirements mean that the biomass must come from legally felled trees and that felled trees must be replanted. In future, biomass from countries whose forests are in decline must not be used, unless it comes from sustainably managed forests or residues.

The legislation states natural areas must be protected and biodiversity must be taken into account, and the carbon stocks and carbon sinks of forests must not to back in the short- and medium-term. Emissions in the production chain must be kept at a “low level” and documentation and verification must ensure that the requirements are complied with.

In 2020, more than 37% of Denmark’s energy production came from renewable sources. Biomass accounts for the majority of renewable energy used in Denmark and has largely replaced the use of coal in the electricity and heating sector. Just over half of the wood biomass used in Denmark is imported.

Minister of the Environment Lea Wermelin said: “We are in the middle of a crisis for both climate and biodiversity. Deforestation and overexploitation of forests and nature both provide more global warming and destroy great natural values.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we now place increased demands on the sustainability of the wood that is used in Denmark. We must help to take the lead, also when it comes to using wood biomass sustainably.”

The US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) welcomed the agreement. Executive director Seth Ginther said: “Sustainability is paramount to ensuring biomass delivers tangible climate benefits while supporting healthy forests and protecting biodiversity.

“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.”

The new legislation is supported by the Danish Government and a majority coalition of eight political parties. Morten Messerschmidt of the Danish People’s Party said: “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.

“Therefore, we must be happy that we can use biomass, and with the agreement, we ensure that it is sustainable and the Danes continue to have a stable heat supply.”