Creating the bioenergy boom sustainably with ISO 13065

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By Elizabeth Gasiorowski Denis
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A new ISO standard that helps assess the sustainability of products and processes related to bioenergy has a huge potential to tackle climate change, promote energy security and foster sustainable development.

Bioenergy carriers – produced from organic matter such as wood by-products and agricultural crops – can be used to generate transport fuel and electricity as well as for heating or cooling. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects an increase in demand for primary energy from biomass of up to the equivalent of 1 827 million tonnes oil, or 12 % of total world primary energy demand by 2030. This is twice the volume of 1990 (World Energy Outlook Special Report Energy and Climate Change 2015).

The new ISO 13065:2015, Sustainability criteria for bioenergy, gives a practical framework for considering environmental, social and economic aspects to facilitate the evaluation and comparability of bioenergy production and products, supply chains and applications.

With several countries and regions setting ambitious goals for bioenergy and biofuels in the next decade, ISO 13065 will serve as a tool to help governments meet their targets. It will benefit both national and international markets by making bioenergy more competitive, particularly for producers in developing countries, and help avoid technical barriers to trade.

Mitigating climate change and improving energy supply security are key drivers for bioenergy, according to the leadership team of ISO project committee ISO/PC 248, Sustainability criteria for bioenergy, that developed the new standard. “With virtually every country in the world producing and consuming some form of bioenergy, strict environmental and social safeguards are needed for the sustainable production of bioenergy and biofuels. ISO 13065 aims to promote the sustainable production and use of bioenergy, and, in so doing, enable users to identify areas for continual improvement.”

Who will benefit

ISO 13065 provides a harmonized approach on sustainability criteria rather than providing threshold values. It can be adopted by several users in different ways:

  • Businesses – by providing a standard framework that allows business to speak the same language when describing aspects of sustainability
  • Purchasers – by comparing sustainability information from suppliers to help identify bioenergy processes and products that meet their requirements
  • Other standards, certification initiatives and government agencies – by serving as a source of information on sustainability, and a transparent basis for all market actors to comply with legal requirements

ISO 13065 can be applied to the whole supply chain, parts of the supply chain or a single process in the supply chain. It also applies to all forms of bioenergy, regardless of raw material, geographical location, technology or end use.

ISO 13065 will not replace national legislation nor certification systems on sustainability.

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Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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