The practice of considering native forest wood waste as biomass was always contentious, and seemingly illogical. This was also how many countries were able to show a distorted number for the share of renewable energy in their mix. The Australian move, to that extent, should be welcomed.
Australia will no longer consider electricity generated from burning of wood waste from native forests as renewable energy. This was one of the features of its climate bill that has finally been passed in parliament.
An immediate impact of the passage means that the electricity generated by burning wood from forest sources will no longer qualify for tradeable Large-scale Generation Certificates – a practice that has been decried as a fraud.
The issue of categorising native forest wood as biomass has been festering for some time now, providing an easy stick for many skeptics to beat the green movement with, in many cases. Especially in Europe. It has also distorted renewable energy share claims in many cases, especially in the UK and the US even.
Interestingly, Australia, had removed forest biomass through the Renewable Energy Act 2000 under the Labor Gillard government, but the same was brought back through an amendment by the Abbott government in 2015. That simply indicates the wide political divisions that industry has been successful in creating on the issue.
In India, biomass is usually taken to mean agricultural waste only, with next to no power generation from forest wood, waste or otherwise.
Perhaps the worst outcome of the practice of categorising forest wood as biomass fuel eligible for consideration as a renewable energy fuel was the move by many coal based power plants to shift to biomass burning , instead of simply closing. It was a typical greasy option backed by politicians, and will hopefully be scrutinized more carefully globally now.
Again, in the Indian context, it must be highlighted that pellets or agri residues have been mandated to be used in thermal stations, simply to manage the issue of crop residue burning in a more controlled environment, as many thermal plants have better pollution control equipment in place to manage the worst of the resulting pollution.