Extension to Transition Period for SBP Standards v2.0

The SBP Standards v2.0 became effective on 10 August 2023. Initially, it was envisaged that a period of 15 months would be sufficient for all Certificate Holders to transition from v1.0 to v2.0. In the light of a number of factors, including feedback received from stakeholders, it has been decided to extend the transition period by a further 12 months, to 9 November 2025. At the end of the transition period, SBP Standards v1.0 will be retired and all Certificate Holders must be compliant with SBP Standards v2.0.

The SBP Standards Committee approved the proposal to extend the transition period at its November meeting, after giving full consideration to the following:

  1. the complex nature of the ongoing reviews of the SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs), and the development of new RRAs;
  2. delays with approvals by regulatory authorities in key jurisdictions;
  3. the later than anticipated publication of the framework for benchmarking and recognising other certification schemes and, in particular, the evaluations of FSC® and PEFCTM;
  4. the time required for Certification Bodies to update their internal systems in line with v2.0, and for our Accreditation Body, ANAB, to approve those scope extensions; and
  5. the time required for Certificate Holders to update their internal systems, and the need for access to the full set of documents supporting v2.0, specifically those concerned with risk mitigation, for example, RRAs, benchmarking/recognition.

Extending the transition period to 9 November 2025 will give Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies sufficient time to undertake the necessary actions to implement v2.0, while removing the risk of a cliff-edge that would see certificates cancelled due to non-compliance with v2.0.

The extension of the transition period should in no way be seen as an opportunity to delay implementation efforts. SBP encourages its Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies to work towards full implementation of v2.0 as soon as possible, and will continue to support all parties through the transition.

SBP Directorate Change

SBP has today announced the appointment of Mihkel Jugaste as a Board Director representing Biomass Producers.

Mihkel has many years’ experience in the biomass sector and, amongst other things, has a thorough understanding of value chain sustainability and the ESG framework. Since 2016, Mihkel has worked for Graanul Invest and is currently the Chief Sustainability Officer and a Management Board Member. Graanul Invest is one of the biggest pellet producers in Europe and one of the largest independent renewable energy producers in the Baltic Sea region.

For the four years from 2019, Mihkel served as a member of the SBP Standards Committee, bringing a valuable perspective to the work of the Committee through his practical knowledge of the implementation of sustainability standards.

Commenting on Mihkel’s appointment, Francis Sullivan, SBP’s independent Chair, said, “I am delighted to welcome Mihkel to the Board of SBP. Mihkel’s knowledge and experience will be extremely valuable to the Board as we closely monitor the roll-out and implementation of our revised Standards. Our Standards are the backbone of what we do and we are committed to their continuous improvement”.

Commenting on his appointment, Mihkel Jugaste said, “I am looking forward to joining the Board of SBP and to contributing to the work of SBP at a strategic level. SBP has exceeded all expectations and reached the highest sustainability credentials in biomass to energy applications. I am enthusiastic to help the organisation in maintaining this level and supporting the evolution of sustainable biomass”.

Public Consultation on EU REDII Level A Risk Assessment for Article 29(7) LULUCF

SBP has evaluated all EU Members States and several non-EU countries against the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) criteria of the EU REDII Article 29(7) (a) – the so-called “Level A” risk assessment. The results of the evaluation have been published in the SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment, which is now open for public consultation.

The SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment assists Biomass Producers and Certification Bodies in determining compliance with Article 29(7) (a) by concluding whether the country of origin of the feedstock used in biomass production:

i) is a Party to the Paris Agreement;

ii) has submitted a nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), covering emissions and removals from agriculture, forestry and land use which ensures that changes in carbon stock associated with biomass harvest are accounted towards the country’s commitment to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions as specified in the NDC; or

iii) national or sub-national laws in place, in accordance with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, applicable in the area of harvest, to conserve and enhance carbon stocks and sinks, and providing evidence that reported LULUCF-sector emissions do not exceed removals.

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the findings of the SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment. All comments should be sent to our Assurance Manager, Roman Polyachenko, by Monday, 18 December 2023.

SBP Directorate Change

SBP has today announced the appointment of Alan Knight as a Board Director representing Biomass End-users.

Alan has over 30 years’ experience of working with global companies and governments on sustainability. Since April 2021, Alan has held the position of Group Director of Sustainability at Drax Group, the UK renewable energy provider and global biomass supply business operator. Alan’s appointment, as with all SBP Board appointments, is in a personal capacity.

In previous roles at B&Q and ArcelorMittal, Alan was instrumental in founding and developing the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and ResponsibleSteel, respectively, both global, multistakeholder standard and certification initiatives. These experiences have equipped Alan with a detailed understanding of global sustainability standards and their application.

As well as working for global private companies across a number of sectors directing sustainability initiatives, Alan has worked with leading responsible business network, Business in the Community, overseeing its corporate sustainability programmes, and served as a commissioner of the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development.

Alan’s work on sustainability has been widely recognised and honoured through a number of prestigious awards.

Commenting on Alan’s appointment, Francis Sullivan, SBP’s independent Chair, said, “I am delighted to welcome Alan to the Board of SBP. Alan has a wealth of experience of sustainability issues and a keen understanding of the role of certification in the biomass sector. Alan joins us at an exciting and important time in our development as we pursue our strategy of growth and continual improvement. His experience will be invaluable to the future of SBP”.

Commenting on his appointment, Alan Knight said, “I am delighted to be joining the Board of SBP and look forward to working with my peers to help ensure the highest sustainability standards for woody biomass”.

Call for Proposals: Regional Risk Assessments

SBP is inviting qualified and experienced organisations/individuals to submit proposals for the development of SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the key biomass producing states of the USA.

RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating risks associated with sourcing feedstock. There are many benefits to determining the risks associated with sourcing feedstock from an entire region, in terms of consistency across Biomass Producers and Certification Bodies, level of effort and active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders.

SBP is seeking to collaborate with a reputable partner/s to act as a Working Body/ies in the development of the RRAs and provide valuable insights into the sustainability risks associated with feedstock sourcing and biomass production in these key sourcing areas.

Interested parties are requested to submit their proposals by 30 November 2023. Proposals should be submitted electronically to info@sbp-cert.org. Further details and guidelines on the submission process are available here.

SBP Public Consultation on SDE+ Instruction Documents

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched a public consultation on two Instruction Documents that allow SBP Certificate Holders to demonstrate compliance with specific biomass sustainability requirements of the Netherlands SDE+ subsidy regime.

Following the development of the SBP Standards v2.0, it has been necessary to update Instruction Documents 2D and 2E and seek the approval of the Dutch authorities. As part of that approval process, we now invite stakeholders to review and submit comments on the requirements of these two documents (links to the documents are given below). The deadline for comments is Friday, 3 November 2023.

All feedback should be submitted to Roman Polyachenko.

Instruction Document 2D specifies the requirements for the evaluation and certification of group schemes for the purpose of demonstrating compliance with the Netherlands SDE+ requirements for biomass categories 1 and 2. Minor changes have been introduced in v2.0, including:

  • the group scheme now only applies to SDE+ biomass categories 1 and 2, rather than 1 to 4 under v1.0
  • a reference to Instruction Document 3I: SBP requirements for Certification Bodies auditing SBP group schemes has been added
  • definitions and references have been aligned with those in the revised SBP Standards v2.0

Instruction Document 2E specifies the requirements for the evaluation, using a risk-based approach, of the Netherlands SDE+ requirements for controlled biomass categories 1 and 2. Minor changes have been introduced in v2.0, including:

  • the risk-based approach is only available for SDE+ controlled biomass, rather than SDE+ compliant biomass
  • definitions and references have been aligned with those in the revised SBP Standards v2.0

Following the public consultation, we will review the input, finalise the Instruction Documents and submit them to the Dutch authorities for final review and approval. We anticipate that the two Instruction Documents will be approved and published by the end of the year.

SBP recognised by the Government of Japan

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has been recognised by the Government of Japan as meeting the requirements necessary for confirming both the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of imported woody biomass under Japan’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT)/Feed-in Premium (FIP) System for Renewable Energy, and the legality and sustainability of imported wood in line with guidelines set under the Clean Wood Act.

Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, commented: “This is very welcome news. We have long identified Japan as a growth market for biomass end-use and importantly one that is committed to sustainability in the sector. We are pleased to receive the recognition that will enable Certificate Holders in Japan to utilise the existing global supply chain of SBP-certified biomass and increase the volume of sustainably sourced material in the market.”

The Ministries of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) are responsible for the FIT/FIP System and Clean Wood Act, respectively.

Working with the Government of Japan’s appointed representatives, SBP has drafted a dedicated Instruction Document that will enable Certificate Holders to meet the Japanese requirements and allow SBP-certified biomass to be imported and used by Japanese power generators. The Instruction Document is expected to be finalised by the end of the year following a review by the SBP Technical Committee and approval by the Japanese Biomass Sustainability Working Group.

SBP will offer training to all Certificate Holders to ensure smooth and effective implementation of the requirements. Further information will be made available in due course.

SBP Publishes its Annual Review for 2022

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today published its annual review for 2022. The review is available at: www.sbp-cert.org/documents/annual-reviews.

Commenting on the events of 2022, Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, said: “The end of the year marked the end of our three-year strategy, which commenced in 2020. Through the delivery of our strategic aims we have positioned SBP as the woody biomass certification scheme of choice, maintained our relevance in the marketplace, enabled informed and responsible choices throughout the supply chain, kept up-to-date with best practice, and informed the biomass debate.

“We saw a drop in Certificate Holder numbers as economic sanctions were triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and, accordingly, we terminated certificates in Russia and Belarus. The resultant drop in revenue was countered by our cash reserves with no detrimental impact on our certification services.

“Our geographic reach increased from 33 countries to 34, with the loss of Belarus and Russia offset by the gain of Réunion, Singapore and South Africa.

“The volume of SBP-certified biomass produced and sold in 2022 dropped to 15.95 million tonnes (2021: 16.70 million tonnes), consistent with the decrease in Certificate Holder numbers. Our share of the European industrial pellet consumption market1 was 78.9%, down from 82.5% in 2021.

“Once again analysis of the wide range of data we collect provides valuable insights on exactly what is used to make SBP-certified biomass. Independently verified data for 2022 shows that the vast majority of feedstock used in the production of biomass came from low grade roundwood that was not merchantable as sawtimber, and sawmill and wood industry residues.

“For the first time we were able to determine the split between forest-level certified feedstock and feedstock evaluated using our own risk-based approach. With the majority of feedstock having been evaluated by our Supply Base Evaluation, the positive impact SBP is having on increasing the volume of certified material in the biomass market is evident.

“With a refreshed strategy for 2023-25, and the roll-out of our revised and improved Standards, we are well-placed to take a leadership role in assuring sustainably-sourced biomass in the global bioeconomy”.

SBP Directorate Change

Raul Kirjanen, founder of AS Graanul Invest, has with effect from 14 June 2023 stepped down from his role as a board member of the Sustainable Biomass Program. Mr Kirjanen has served in this position in a personal capacity since January 2022 and we thank him for his valuable contribution to our organisation. We will be recruiting a new board member to represent Biomass Producer interests over the coming months and will provide an update in due course.

SBP Publishes Strategy for 2023-25

SBP has today published its Strategy for the three-year period ending 2025. It comprises a refreshed statement of Purpose, four Strategic Aims, and five Focus Areas for delivery.

Francis Sullivan, SBP Chair, commented,: “Our Strategy draws on our past but chiefly looks to the future. It explains our Purpose, defines what we mean by good biomass and sets out our ambitions and commitments as a framework for our annual investment and operational plans.

“We set out the indicators by which we will assess our success over time in strengthening our position as the woody biomass certification scheme of choice and as a vehicle for positive impact.

“As a sourcing standard, we support those active in the woody biomass supply chain who are in it for the long term, and who understand the importance of the triple bottom line. We are confident that we make a compelling case for broader adoption of our Standards and for broadening and deepening our relationships with all our stakeholder groups”.

The full strategy and a summary document can be found here.