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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 wind, solar energy, hydrogen, biomass and other technologies, e.g. storage.

By doing this, we are making an important contribution to the development of the low-CO2 economy. 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 flexible capacity. In the years ahead, this will also increasingly need to be free of CO2. 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.

Guaranteed green

The biomass used by RWE originates from sustainable forestry and industry. 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. Years ago nature and environmental organisations have agreed on this with energy producers. In the Netherlands, the biomass that RWE uses complies with these sustainability requirements. This is demonstrated in annual reports RWE submits to the Dutch government.

RWE has a wealth of experience in the large-scale use of biomass for electricity and heat production and demonstrating the biomass sustainability. In addition to the formal legal requirements, relating to the sustainability of biomass, Dutch environmental organisations and energy producers jointly agreed on additional requirements as part of a Biomass Sustainability Covenant (Convenant Duurzame Biomassa) in 2015. RWE has also implemented these so-called extra-legal criteria covering mostly social aspects. As the Covenant requires, RWE does report annually to the parties of the Covenant to demonstrate its compliance.


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 generally more expensive than coal. This is why the Dutch government provided subsidies in case this is needed to make it economical to use biomass instead of fossil fuels. Until 2027, RWE has been granted a maximum of €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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