Effective sustainability criteria for bioenergy: Towards the implementation of the european renewable directive II

T. Mai-Moulin*, R. Hoefnagels, P. Grundmann, M. Junginger

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sustainability criteria and verification through national legislations and voluntary certification schemes are important tools to ensure sustainable supply and bioenergy development in the European Union. The Renewable Energy Directive Recast (RED II) sets the framework for renewable energy support for the period 2021–2030 with updated and new sustainability criteria. This study reviews the sustainability criteria in the RED II and in existing national legislations and voluntary schemes. The aim is to identify possible gaps and good practices in certification to propose a set of sustainability criteria that are effective in their coverage of the most urgent sustainability concerns, and that are practically applicable to the whole bioenergy sector. The proposed set of effective sustainability criteria was validated through stakeholder interviews. The results show that the RED II is a major step forward in safeguarding sustainable bioenergy supply; however, it still entails sustainability risks in forest management and lacks clarifications and criteria for imported biomass feedstocks. The proposed effective sustainability criteria in this study are more extensive than in the RED II and help to assure sustainable land use, to protect biodiversity, and to conserve ecosystems, whilst also addressing rights for workers and local communities, and the efficient use of resources. These criteria are already implemented in some comprehensive and stringent national support schemes and voluntary schemes. It is recommended that policy makers, scheme owners and sustainability practitioners coordinate discussions and agreements on the various sustainability aspects. A clear definition of waste and residues, measurement of indirect land use change, and recognition of competent voluntary schemes to demonstrate sustainability compliance should be considered at EU level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110645
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • bioenergy
  • Biofuels
  • Certification
  • Heat and electricity
  • National legislation
  • RED II
  • Sustainability criteria
  • Sustainability requirement
  • Voluntary scheme


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