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Biomass and the energy transition

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RWE has a clear target when it comes to sustainability: as a company, we aim to be CO2-neutral by 2040. To achieve that target, we are working on the expansion of onshore and offshore windsolar energy, biomass and other technologies.

By doing this, we are making an important contribution to the development of the low-CO2 economy in the Netherlands. In the future, wind and solar power will be the most important sources of renewable electricity. But there will always be days when there is insufficient wind or sun to meet the demand for electricity. At these times, there is a need for what is referred to as adjustable capacity. In the years ahead, this will also increasingly need to be free of CO2. RWE uses wind and solar power for this. Even if the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, there needs to be security of supply: green energy must be available from wall sockets at all times: 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Biomass provides that security. This is why wind, sun and biomass are currently the ideal blend when it comes to sustainability and security of supply. After all, biomass can also be used to produce heat in a highly efficient and sustainable way.

The Dutch government and the European Union, together with the international UN IPCC panel, endorse the important role played by biomass in the energy transition: without it, the climate targets are not achievable.

‘The Cabinet is convinced that the use of biomass now and in the lead-up to 2030 and 2050 will be essential for ensuring a sustainable economy and achieving our climate objectives.’

Climate agreement

Guaranteed green

The biomass used by RWE originates from sustainable forestry. Forestry management and the wood and paper industry generate waste flows that include trimmings, crooked and rotten trees and sawdust. This is used to make pellets that are suitable for generating energy. The Dutch government sets the world's strictest requirements for the sustainability of these pellets. Nature and environmental organisations have agreed on this with energy producers and the government.

RWE has a wealth of experience in the large-scale use of biomass for electricity and heat production. In order to set the rules for the sustainability of biomass, Dutch environmental organisations and energy producers jointly agreed on the the Biomass Sustainability Covenant (Convenant Duurzame Biomassa) in 2015. It sets criteria on such issues as sustainable forest management (including biodiversity) and CO2 reduction. For example, the wood used for generating energy must at least be FSC-certified or similar, or otherwise verified. These agreements have been included in legislation and regulations by the government.


Many forms of sustainable energy are still more expensive than fossil fuels. For the use of biomass, power plants first have to be adapted to make them technically suitable for a new fuel. In addition, biomass is more expensive than coal. This is why the Dutch government provides a subsidy, as in the case of solar and wind power. Until 2027, RWE will receive up to €2.5 billion in SDE+ subsidy from the government. An important condition for this subsidy is that all biomass used by RWE must meet all statutory sustainability requirements.

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