Sustainable biomass is an important stepping stone towards a greener energy system without coal. Our biomass is primarily wood pellets and wood chips from sustainably grown wood residues.Sustainable biomass from wood chips and wood pellets is crucial for phasing out Ørsted’s and Denmark’s use of coal. In Ørsted, we have decided that we will phase out all coal by 2023. In our transition away from fossil fuels, we must ensure that it has been documented that the biomass is sustainable and climate-friendly. There is a difference between sustainable biomass and non-sustainable biomass. In Ørsted, we only use biomass that is completely sustainable. Non-sustainable biomass should not be used in the energy system at all. In our ‘Programme for procuring sustainable biomass’, you can read more about how we ensure that our biomass is sustainable.
How does Ørsted’s use of sustainable biomass affects the forests’ condition?
Sustainable production forests seek to produce wood as efficiently as possible. Production forests are regularly thinned to remove low-quality wood. Branches and tree tops are also cut off and left on the forest floor when trees are felled and taken to sawmills. This leaves considerable volumes of wood residues which we can use to produce green energy.
Our activities have no negative effects on the number of trees, the size of the forests or its health. We only buy wood pellets and wood chips from suppliers offering biomass solely sourced from forest areas where there is ongoing reforestation, and the ecosystem and biodiversity are protected. To ensure that our suppliers comply with our sustainability requirements, we have implemented the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) certification system, under which independent third-party auditors monitor and certify that the suppliers fulfil our sustainability requirements.
What does Ørsted do to ensure that biomass is sustainable?
Our biomass is certified and meets the requirements of the Danish industry agreement on sustainable wooden biomass, and our suppliers are inspected by an independent third party. To ensure that Ørsted meets the requirements of the Danish industry agreement and consequently uses sustainable biomass, we’ve implemented the six sustainability requirements of the industry agreement in addition to our code of conduct. Our biomass suppliers must therefore, as a minimum, comply with the following requirements for sustainable production:
- The trees must be legally felled.
- The forest ecosystems must be protected.
- The productivity of the forests and their ability to contribute to the global carbon cycle must be maintained.
- The forests must be healthy and well-functioning.
- Biodiversity, sensitive and heritage areas must be protected. 6. Social and work-related rights must be respected
In the Danish industry agreement on sustainable biomass, you can read more about the six sustainability requirements.
How can cutting down a lot of trees and burning them be good for the environment?
It’s a myth that using wood residues to generate energy means felling the forests. However, deforestation is a real and valid concern. Wood and forests are an important part of the solution to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Therefore, it is crucial that the forests are managed properly and sustainably. Our wood pellets and wood chips are sourced from sustainable production forests where the trees are constantly replanted, the ecosystem is maintained, and biodiversity is protected.
Why is sustainable biomass a better alternative than coal when burning wood also releases carbon dioxide?
It’s true that burning wood residues to generate heat and power leads to carbon emissions. But trees are part of a natural cycle, which means that at some point they’ll either rot or be burnt and release carbon dioxide, which will then be absorbed by new trees. Coal and gas, on the other hand, store a lot of carbon dioxide underground, and we should leave that in place. Therefore, we have a much smaller impact on the climate when we use wood residues instead of coal and gas.