This article briefly explains what is the political and legal regulation of energetic use of biomass, especially biomass from landscape management, in Germany, Czech Republic and Italy.
Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC member countries of the European Union are obliged to draft and submit to the European Commission National Renewable Action Plans (NREAPs) outlining pathways which will allow to meet their 2020 renewable energy, energy efficiency and GHG cuts targets. Germany set its target on 18% of share of energy generated from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption. In Czech Republic the renewable energy sources share of 13 % by 2020 is likely to be achieved with biomass being the main source of renewable energy with 85% share. Italy has notified the goal of 17% of renewable energy on gross final energy consumption in their national action plan on renewable energy (PAN). The countries have different available resources and their own unique energy markets to meet their obligations, including their legally binding 2020 targets.
Crucial law for the development of renewable energies in Germany is the “2014 Amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act –EEG” supporting energy production from renewable sources. The objective of the EEG is to continue steady deployment of renewable energy in Germany in a cost efficient manner by fostering the integration of renewable energy sources into the market. The act aims to increase the gross consumption of electricity produced by renewable energies to 40%-45% by 2025 and to 55% – 60% by 2035. One mean to reach this goal is, among others, to rise the installed performance of biomass energy plants up to 100 MW per year (gross) (EEG, § 3(4)).
In connection with the EEG the specifications for the energetic use of biomass are described in the Biomass Ordinance (BiomasseV). The Ordinance regulates for the scope of the EEG which materials are classified as biomass, what technical procedures for power production from biomass apply for the EEG and what environmental requirements have to be met when producing power with biomass (BiomasseV, § 1). In paragraph 2 the Biomass Ordinance defines, among others, organic waste as biomass according to § 2 Nr. 1 of the Ordinance for Organic Waste (BioAbfV). Here material from landscape and maintenance work (LCMW) without the main purpose of nature conservation is categorized as organic waste (BioAbfV, Annex 1) and thus LCMW applies as biomass for energy production according to the EEG. The energetic use e.g. in biogas plants oblige different permission and must meet many requirements.
Beside the EEG a number of policies and measures work on promoting the energy production with renewable resources. For instance the national Energy Concept, in force since 2010, draws together several policy goals and aims to secure supply and protect the climate while at the same time promoting the growth and competitiveness of German industry. The Concept describes specific targets and development paths through the year 2050 and contains a wide variety of specific measures to meet these targets. On top of this, there is an immediate action program consisting of ten especially urgent measures.
Finally, Germany also provides policies for the promotion of renewable energy sources covering training, certification and research programmes, a self-commitment of public authorities, the support of district heating networks and the introduction of building obligations regarding the use of heat produced from renewable energy.
In the Czech Republic there is not only one regulation devoted specifically to the treatment of biomass from “public greenery” or “public green areas” (veřejná zeleň in Czech) and biomass feedstock which is a by-product of maintenance of these areas. There are multiple laws relevant for anyone working in the field, e.g. Act No 114/1992 Coll. on the Conservation of Nature and Landscape, Act 183/2006 Coll. on town and country planning and building code (Building Act) or Act No 128/2000 Coll. on municipalities.
For the purposes of the greenGain project and its aim to support energy utilisation of this source of biomass the most important is the Act no. 185/2001 Coll. (Waste Act) and legal enactments in the field of renewable energy: Act No. 165/2012 Coll. Act on support for the use of renewable sources of energy and Act No 458/2000 Coll. on business conditions and public administration in the energy sectors and amending certain laws (the Energy Act). Waste management legislation and regulation regarding renewable energy are under constant development in the Czech Republic.
Biomass feedstock coming up from maintenance of public green areas (be it in urban areas or in the countryside) is considered a waste and as such involved parties has to respect regulatory conditions when treating this feedstock. These multiple requirements can in some cases limit municipalities in taking full advantage of utilising these sources of biomass.
The major waste legislation has been accepted at the end of 2014 which made the separation of biological waste obligatory for municipalities from April 2015. This opened a major window of opportunity in the Czech Republic to decrease the amount of biodegradable communal waste being landfilled. These requirements motivate municipalities to find ways how to manage biological waste better and ideally take advantage of its potential to generate useful materials or energy.
In Italy, energy production from renewable sources is regulated by the “Framework Decree” Legislative Decree No. 28 of 3 March 2011. This general law includes measures to simplify the administrative procedures for the construction of renewable energy plants including bioenergy plants, both for the production of electricity and for the production of thermal energy. Nevertheless, it is evident that the market driver for the production of energy from renewable sources in Italy is still the production of electric power while heat is considered “secondary”. Furthermore, in order to enjoy the incentives for the production of electricity and heat, it’s necessary to refer to two different decrees.
The current implementing measure regarding the power production from the biomass sector is the Decree of the Economic Development Ministry of 6 July, 2012, which regulates the feed-in tariff for the production of electric power from renewable sources other than photovoltaic. The decree sets the maximum power installed and produced per year at national level, supports the production of power by small plants (below 300 kW) and regulates the installation of plants above 100 kWe installed through the subscription to national registers. The decree still determines electrical power as the main factor for the subsidy of bioenergy production but foresees a bonus tariff for high efficiency CHP generated by biomasses. Nevertheless, the performance required for the high-efficiency qualifications is quite difficult to reach for small-medium plants.
The pure production of heat is regulated by the Decree of the Economic Development Ministry of 28 December 2012 and is subsidized by different mechanisms. For citizens the incentives are fiscal subtractions which are applied for 50% of the cost for the installation of biomass boilers or stoves.
Another factor to be taken into consideration for biomass energy use is the national law of waste and residues, the Environmental Act (Legislative Decree 03/04/2006 n. 152), which regulates restrictions for energy use of contaminated feedstock. Classification of any biomass from landscape management as waste may have implications for its management and energy use. Among the material from landscape management most susceptible biomass resources are those in contact with urban environment and traffic that is biomass from roadside, waterways and urban green areas. The use may be compromised and is usually dependent on the interpretation of waste regulations. Therefore, the definition of by-products must be carefully checked.
An overview on all on-going policies and measures for renewable energy in EU countries can be found on the homepage of the International Energy Agency and more detailed information on the regulations on renewable energy generation is available on Res Legal Europe.