Government stimulates biomass energy

Dutch central government supports the development of new technologies for generating biomass energy, for instance through the SDE grant scheme.

What is biomass made from?

Biomass can be made from:

  • clippings and wood mulch from forestry and the wood processing industry
  • slurry from sewage works
  • organic household waste
  • vegetable oils and fats from the food processing industry
  • livestock manure
  • energy crops such as rapeseed and palm trees.

Government stimulates development of biomass energy

Biomass energy is generated from organic material known as biomass. The government stimulates the development of biomass energy for a range of uses:

  • Energy generation by combustion

    Electricity plants and waste incinerators can generate heat and electricity by combusting or co-firing biomass, for example in coal-fired power plants. The SDE scheme provides grants for producing energy from biomass.
  • Petrol and diesel blended with biofuels

    Suppliers of petrol and diesel are obliged to blend these with biofuels. By 2020, transport fuels must contain 10% biofuel. This was agreed by the Netherlands and other EU member states.
  • Biobased economy

    Besides being a useful source of energy, biomass can also be used to make plastic. The government expects the Netherlands to become a key centre for the biobased economy, or bio-economy, in the next few years. In a bio-economy, organic waste, algae and meat waste can be used to generate plastics, energy and fuel.

Sustainability requirements for biomass in coal-fired power plants

Biomass that is cofired in coal-fired power plants must meet high standards. Producers must be able to guarantee that the biomass is from genuinely sustainable sources. Energy companies, nature conservation and environmental organisations, and government have concluded agreements on sustainability requirements for biomass:

  • The use of biomass from forests may not put existing forests at risk. The quality and health of existing forests must be preserved or improved. notably their soil and their surface and ground water. Producers must replant areas where they fell old trees with young trees.
  • Energy companies must prove that the use of biomass reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% compared to burning fossil fuels.