On Monday 27th May in Lisbon, Portugal, the EUBCE 2019, European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, opened its door to a record edition with 1.600 delegates from almost 80 countries and 43 exhibitors.
João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Minister of Environment and Energy Transition of Portugal, joined the Opening Ceremony
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by welcoming you and thanking the organization for inviting me to open this 27th edition of the European Biomass Conference & Exhibition and for having chosen our country to hold this important event. In doing so, you have elected our country as the capital of the climate sector for 2019, on par with other major events such as the African Energy Forum, Energy Business Forum for the Union for Mediterranean and others. It is a great honour to open this major event – a leading platform for the biomass specialists that combines one of the largest sciences and technology conferences with a high-quality industry exhibition, attracting biomass professionals from around the globe to our country.
Portugal has been a front runner promoting renewable energy and we remain committed to maintaining that status
The integration of renewables in electricity generation raised 26 percentage points since 2005, reaching more than fifty per cent (50%) since 2014.
Last year, in March, we generated more renewable electricity than we consumed. In 2018, wind power generation had a 23% share in electricity generation and, this year, on the 1st of February, wind generation reached a 63% share, supporting 90% of national consumption.
Portugal is currently the 7th country in the EU with the highest penetration of renewables in electricity.
Renewable electricity generation have played a key role in the decarbonisation of the economy, contributing to a 17% emission reduction since 2005.
All of this only have been possible because Portugal is a country with a large potential regarding renewable energy resources and because we have assumed, in a very clear way, the commitment to energy transition
In 2016, and in line with the ambition of the Paris agreement, the Portuguese government outlined its chosen route and the commitment to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 by developing a Carbon Neutrality Roadmap towards 2050 and National Energy and Climate Plan for 2030. In doing so, our country wants to give an unmitigated sign that it is committed to maintaining its stance at the forefront of those that are tackling the extraordinary challenges that will confront the climate sector for the foreseeable future.
The Roadmap translates the vision, sets the path, and provides the most cost-effective options to achieve a neutral balance between emissions and carbon sequestration by 2050 and our ambition for 2013 through our Energy and Climate Plan is to set new emission reduction targets up to 55%, when compared to 2005; 35% target for energy efficiency; 47% for renewable energy in gross final energy demand and achieving 80% renewable sources in electricity generation.
This is an ambitious, but realistic plan – these targets are a natural sequence to our previous achievements and are aligned with our future challenges.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Soon, a Resolution of the Council of Ministers establishing the strategy for biomass and the revision of DL 64/2017 will be adopted. This resolution will be adapted to this new vision, one favouring proximity to the resource and consumers of thermal energy and making more efficient and sustainable use of biomass.
But why? Why we are doing this?
First, because we have renewable targets to achieve and Biomass represents one of the ways to achieve them. And according to our National Plan for Energy and Climate we want to do it in the most efficient and sustainable way.
Second, because the forestry sector in Portugal occupies a prominent place in the national economy and is estimated to contribute almost 3 billion euros to the trade balance, representing a generation of wealth corresponding to around 2% of national GDP and of 8% of industrial GDP.
Third, because this industrial sector is well consolidated and is responsible for a very significant volume of exports with a very high incorporation of national added value.
Four, because the safeguarding of this forest heritage has a very important impact in defending jobs in rural areas and in rural livelihoods, helping to secure population through new forest-related activities, improving their relationship with rural areas and, in this way, developing greater respect for the preservation of their sustainability and diversity. Biomass use is also a crucial way to prevent forest fires, a critical task for the present and for a future which will make our country even more vulnerable to these types of events.
It is therefore a national imperative to support biomass energy production resulting from forest clean-up. Following a request from the Portuguese government, the European Commission approved, on 8 January 2018, under the EU rules on State aid, a scheme to support biomass facilities located close to forested areas considered as ” critical ‘in terms of fire risk.
We know, and the European Commission also knows, that the potential of forestry and agriculture in the supply of biomass is far from exhausted, on the contrary. The study commissioned by the European Commission for PricewaterhouseCoopers EU Services EESV’s Consortium, called “Sustainable and optimal use of biomass for energy in the EU beyond 2020”, estimates that this contribution could triple in some scenarios (from 123 Mtoe to 338-391 Mtoe), in the 2030 horizon, even though not all quantified biomass can be mobilized, both physically and economically.
So, in view of the importance of the forest and the forestry sector in the national economy, one of the solutions to be implemented will be the promotion and support for the installation of decentralized cogeneration power units of variable size and dimensioned according to heating and cooling needs, which do not put as much pressure on terms of availability of biomass and in the energy system, and that are better suited to forest management.
Why not to maintain the current model focused on biomass dedicated to electricity production only? Because the mode for the valorisation of biomass using thermoelectric plants for the exclusive production of electricity has a very low efficiency (typically around 25%), which forces find a guaranteed rate positively discriminated (well above the market price) to monetize the associated investments.
We believe that only solutions that guarantee the energy efficiency of the projects through the full use of the thermal energy produced must merit support to the electricity sales tariff and the need for full valorisation of the thermal energy produced allows to guarantee the sustainable and efficient design of the projects that are presented.
In order to support the implementation of concept demonstration solutions for small biomass decentralized thermal power plants, that do not put as much pressure on biomass availability and on the energy, system as better suited to forest management, a specific Notice is available under the Operational Program for Sustainability and Efficiency in the Use of Resources (POSEUR). The amounts foreseen in this notice amount to more than 20 million euros. To this value is added the amount available to support the tariff of sale of electricity of 21 million euros for fifteen years. The total amount of funding available to support the installation of this type of power station amounts to EUR 340 million.
Nonetheless, the benefits of continuous, effective forest clearance will be much greater than the costs of supporting small power plant networks that organically burn this type of biomass, allowing downstream to save money spent on firefighting, in addition to the lost patrimonial wealth of difficult accounting, if we include, for example, biodiversity, soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world of energy is changing quickly, it is imperative that the right choices are made in the shift to a carbon neutral economy, ensuring affordable, secure and sustainable energy for businesses and households.
In these transformative times, we require a coherent investment strategy which will take full benefit of the most effective and efficient means that may contribute to the reduction of our energy dependency, promote social well-being, strengthen economic competitiveness, encourage scientific innovation, foster environmental protection and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Portugal believes that addressing climate change challenges and promoting the transition towards a low carbon society will allow us to be more prosper, to create more jobs, to have a fair society, well within the limits imposed by our natural system.