Developing a sustainability standard for bioenergy

Bioenergy is a type of renewable power generation technology that efficiently extracts considerable quantities of clean, low-emission electricity from sources such as agricultural crop wastes, plantation wood waste, urban garden and food waste, sugar cane residues (known as bagasse), sewage and animal wastes. Bioenergy can be stored and controlled and creates little or no greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by the Clean Energy Council Virtually every country in the world produces and consumes some form of bioenergy. Sustainability credentials for bioenergy are now seen as a necessity.

The CFA has appointed a representative, Tracey Colley, to the new Standards Australia Technical Committee EV-020 Sustainability Criteria for bioenergy. This committee will participate in developing the ISO standard Sustainability criteria for bioenergy which will provide a framework for considering the environmental, social and economic aspects of bioenergy that could be used for production, supply chain and application.

More information on bioenergy can be found on the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the Bioenergy Australia websites.



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3 Comments on "Developing a sustainability standard for bioenergy"

  1. Thanks for your input Michael. The standard now covers all type of bioenergy including biofuels for transport. It covers bioenergy types such as biomass (such as wood pellets for heating), biogas from wastes as well as biofuels for transport. As it is an International Standard, it means that existing definitions from other standards are used wherever possible, to create consistency between the standards. The definitions of bioenergy and biofuel are very similar, but bioenergy also covers heat and power production (rather than just fuel production).

    The standard is developed using consensus decision making, so that it reflects the majority view of stakeholders, and the consensus was that the title should be changed to bioenergy. One issue was that in many jurisdictions, the term “biofuels” is more closely associated with liquid and gaseous fuels for transport, and it was important that it was absolutely clear that the standard covers all types of bioenergy.

    Tracey Colley, CFA representative on the Standards Australia Technical Committee EV-020 Sustainability Criteria for Bioenergy

  2. Thanks Michael. I have passed on your comment to CFA’s standards coordinator to share with consumer representatives on this committee.

  3. The term ‘bioenergy’ is a misnomer which is self-contradictory. The technically correct term is biofuel. The adoption of ‘bioenergy’ undermines any scientific lucidity of the proposed standard. The use of the term biofuel will improve the logic and technical presentation of the proposed standard overall. This is necessary if the standard is to have any hope of being useful to industry and consumers.

    It is understood that the draft standard is intended to cover the production of biofuels (such as biodiesel and ethanol) and not the energy derived from the combustion of these fuels.

    Bioenergy is a misnomer. It is a poorly designed term that does not lend itself to technical application in the field relevant to this standard. Creation of an equivalent term to biofuel through the retention of the suffix and replacement of fuel is not possible. Fuel and energy are not synonyms. Energy is derived from a fuel – usually released through combustion. The term bioenergy is esoteric and has little utility (if any) in this Standard.

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