This paper initially set out to achieve three objectives: First, to find out what policies, strategies and prospects are now in place among European countries that promote the development of biomass systems. Which institution is responsible for what? Specifically, it embarked to ask what institutional framework has been designed at the European level, national level, and regional level to promote biomass energy. Additionally, it sought to ask what roles do technical agencies, government ministries, administrative offices, universities, research organisations and associations play to accomplish these goals.
The second task was to flesh-out what policies, regulations, legislation, rules and standards have been crafted to ensure the sustainable production, conversion, marketing and use of wood as fuel. This is a necessary objective since bioenergy system is a complex one in as much as it includes a multi-faceted production process from preparation of raw materials, harvesting, grinding, transportation, conversion of raw materials into fuel, distribution and eventual consumption.
The third objective was to come up with a per country case-specific description of the institutional set-up and legislative mechanisms that promote bioenergy in Europe. Overall, the study provided a comprehensive perspective of the development of bioenergy systems after reviewing the cases of 25 European countries.
It is further hoped that developing countries around the world will find these insights operationally beneficial. This is particularly meant for policy-decision makers in these countries who are presently laying the groundwork in terms of institutionalising bioenergy systems in their long-term, as well as, in their medium term goals. There is also so much to learn from the European country experiences in terms of their individual legal paradigms. Overall, every nation will realise that a strong political will is needed to achieve such targets.
Institutional framework among European countries indicate that policies, strategies and projects relating to bioenergy systems development are being planned, designed and formulated at various levels. These are the policy-decision makers at the European, national and regional echelon. At the European level, the "set-aside" policy is a gainsay. Farmers protest that promoting energy crops in set-aside lands require enormous initial financial investment. This has deterred them from pursuing energy crops tillage. At the national level, the situation is disparate. Some countries have long-term policies, programmes, and complementary support mechanisms already in place. On the contrary, some other countries have done less towards this goal, and still a few others, no clear-cut policies are in place at all. Lastly, at the regional level, regional policies exist even if there are no national policies. This is especially true, for instance, among countries with Federal States.
Technical agencies, as well as, governments, ministries, administrative offices all over the European countries included in the study are involved in the development, implementation and monitoring of policies, strategies and projects that concern wood energy. The procedural details though similar in some cases could differ from one country to another. Dedicated agencies and intermediate management structures serve as the interface between policy makers and research organisations. Universities and research organisations on the other hand carryout technical and techno-economic research and development activities. Lastly, associations, NGOs and the private sector all join forces in the promotion and further development of biomass energy systems among European countries.
On the legal aspect there are country-to-country variations. Environmental planning laws, incentives for bioenergy production, utilisation and conversion, subsidies, decentralised electricity systems, standardisation of fuels, taxation, land tenure, energy laws - these are examples of laws and policies promulgated among a number of the countries under study. Financial regulations and government incentives, which deal with investments and services in renewable energy, are also available in some cases.
This report is divided into three parts corresponding to the objectives of the study: Institutional framework; legal aspects; and country case studies.
Chapter 1 describes and elaborates the idea that European Renewable Energy Policies serve as the framework within which objectives and targets are set at the national and regional levels. Policies need legislation and regulations to ensure sustainable production, marketing, and use of biomass as fuel. They are implemented through mechanisms such as laws, taxation, grants and subsidies.
This section of the study also includes political, economic and institutional aspects of the use of biomass such as competitiveness and utilisation of its by-products and residues. The case of Finland is cited as an example since it is the highest user of bioenergy. Although biomass from forest residues have a great potential, it is not competitive compared to fossil fuels.
Chapter 2 acknowledges that bioenergy is a very complex system, which includes many phases: production, preparation, transportation, and conversion of raw materials for distribution and utilisation to final consumers. As a matter of fact, a large number of areas for legislation affect bioenergy, and this is a very crucial issue in a European framework because national laws and financial regulations hold specific limits for wood-fired emissions. Moreover, woodfuels standards differ largely from one country to another.
The study also collected relevant documents described within Chapter 3, that provides information about the current state of institutional and legal issues concerning bioenergy among European countries.