Thursday, October 11, 2018

Renewable Energy Directive (RED)

The EU Renewable Energy Directive classifies wood as a low-carbon fuel source, and would encourage deforestation around the world, critics say. In a new paper published by Nature Communications, eight international scientists condemned the plan for ignoring the advice of hundreds of experts, and likely increasing atmospheric carbon “for decades to centuries” to come.

This Renewable Energy Directive (RED) is now finalized. Because meeting a small quantity of Europe’s energy use requires a large quantity of wood, and because of the example it sets for the world, the RED profoundly threatens the world’s forests.

Makers of wood products have for decades generated electricity and heat from wood process wastes, which still supply the bulk of Europe’s forest-based bioenergy. Although burning these wastes emits carbon dioxide, it benefits the climate because the wastes would quickly decompose and release their carbon anyway. Yet nearly all such wastes have long been used.
Over the last decade, however, due to similar flaws in the 2008 RED, Europe has expanded its use of wood harvested to burn directly for energy, much from U.S. and Canadian forests in the form of wood pellets. Contrary to repeated claims, almost 90% of these wood pellets come from the main stems of trees, mostly of pulpwood quality, or from sawdust otherwise used for wood products.
Unlike wood wastes, harvesting additional wood just for burning is likely to increase carbon in the atmosphere for decades to centuriesThis effect results from the fact that wood is a carbon-based fuel whose harvest and use are inefficient from a greenhouse gas (GHG) perspective. Typically, around one third or more of each harvested tree is contained in roots and small branches that are properly left in the forest to protect soils but that decompose and release carbon. Wood that reaches a power plant can displace fossil emissions but per kWh of electricity typically emits 1.5x the CO2 of coal and 3x the CO2 of natural gas because of wood’s carbon bonds, water content and lower burning temperature.
Allowing trees to regrow can reabsorb the carbon, but for some years a regrowing forest typically absorbs less carbon than if the forest were left unharvested, increasing the carbon debt. Eventually, the regrowing forest grows faster and the additional carbon it then absorbs plus the reduction in fossil fuels can together pay back the carbon debt on the first stand harvested. But even then, carbon debt remains on the additional stands harvested in succeeding years, and it takes more years for more stands to regrow before there is just carbon parity between use of wood and fossil fuels. It then takes many more years of forest regrowth to achieve substantial GHG reductions.
The renewability of trees, unlike fossil fuels, helps explain why biomass can eventually reduce GHGs but only over long periods. The amount of increase in GHGs by 2050 depends on which and how forests are ultimately harvested, how the energy is used and whether wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas. Yet overall, replacing fossil fuels with wood will likely result in 2-3x more carbon in the atmosphere in 2050 per gigajoule of final energy. Because the likely renewable alternative would be truly low carbon solar or wind, the plausible, net effect of the biomass provisions could be to turn a ~5% decrease in energy emissions by 2050 into increases of ~5–10% or even more.
The implications for forests and carbon are large because even though Europe harvests almost as much wood as the US and Canada combined, these harvests could only supply ~5.5% of its primary energy and ~4% of its final energy. If wood were to supply 40% of the additional renewable energy—an uncertain but plausible level—the wood volumes required would equal all of Europe’s wood harvest. In fact, the RED sets a goal to increase by 10% renewable energy for heat, sourced overwhelmingly from wood, which would likely by itself use ~50% of Europe’s present annual wood harvestEuropean Commission planning documents projected somewhat smaller roles for bioenergy based on lower renewable energy targets, but they scale up to ~55–85% of Europe’s wood harvest at the larger target ultimately adopted. Supplying this level of wood will probably require expanding harvests in forests all over the world.
The global signal may have even greater effects on climate and biodiversity. At the last global climate conference (UNFCCC-COP 23, Bonn 2017), tropical forest countries and others, including Indonesia and Brazil, jointly declared goals “to increase the use of wood … to generate energy as part of efforts to limit climate change. Once countries and powerful private companies become invested in such efforts, further expansion will become harder to stop. The effect can already be seen in the United States, where Congress in both 2017 and 2018 added provisions to annual spending bills declaring nearly all forest biomass carbon free—although environmentalists have so far fought to limit the legal effects to a single year.If the world met just an additional 2% of global primary energy with wood, it would need to double its industrial wood harvests.
Unfortunately, various sustainability conditions in the RED would have little consequence. For example, one repeated instruction is that harvesting trees should occur sustainably, but sustainable does not equal low carbon. Perhaps the strictest version of sustainability, often defended as a landscape approach, claims GHG reductions so long as harvest of trees in a country (or just one forest) does not exceed the forest’s incremental growthYet, by definition, this incremental growth would otherwise add biomass, and therefore carbon storage to the forest, holding down climate changeThis carbon sink, in large part due to climate change itself, is already factored into climate projections and is not disposable. Harvesting and burning this biomass reduces the sink and adds carbon to the air just like burning any other carbon fuel. The directive only requires forests to maintain existing carbon stocks in limited circumstances, but given the size of the global forest sink, even applying such a rule everywhere would still allow global industrial wood harvests to more than triple.
The directive also repeatedly cites a goal to preserve biodiversity, but its provisions will afford little protection. Prohibitions on harvesting wood directly for bioenergy apply only to primary forests—a small share of global forests. In addition, any forests could be cut to replace the vast quantities of wood diverted from existing managed forests to bioenergy.
Some argue that increasing carbon in the atmosphere for decades is fine so long as reductions eventually occur, but timely mitigation matters. More carbon in the atmosphere for decades means more damages for decades, and more permanent damages due to more rapid melting of permafrost, glaciers and ice-sheets, and more packing of heat and acidity into the world’s oceans. Recognizing this need, the EU otherwise requires that GHG reductions occur over 20-years, but that timing does not apply to forest biomass.
Instead, the directive incorporates the view that forest biomass is inherently carbon neutral if harvested sustainably. Although the RED requires that bioenergy generate large greenhouse gas reductions, its accounting rules ignore the carbon emitted by burning biomass itself. They only count GHGs from trace gases and use of fossil fuels to produce the bioenergy, which is like counting the GHGs from coal-mining machinery but not from burning the coal.

The main new Commission thinking, reflected in the sustainability provisions, is that bioenergy rules do not need to count plant carbon so long as countries that supply the wood have commitments related to land use emissions under European rules or the Paris accord. But this thinking repeats the confusion that occurred at the time of the Kyoto Protocol between rules designed only to count global emissions and laws designed to shape national or private incentives. Under accounting rules for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries that burn biomass can ignore the resulting energy emissions because the countries that cut down the trees used for the biomass must count the carbon lost from the forest. Switching from coal to biomass allows a country to ignore real energy emissions that physically occur there, but the country supplying the wood must report higher land use emissions (at least compared to the no-bioenergy alternative). The combination does not make bioenergy carbon free because it balances out global accounting, the limited goal of national reporting.
But this accounting system does not work for national energy laws. If a country’s laws give its power plants strong financial incentives to switch from coal to wood on the theory that wood is carbon-neutral, those power plants have incentives to burn wood regardless of the real carbon consequences. Even if a country supplying the wood reports higher land use emissions through the UNFCCC, that carbon is not the power plant’s problem. Only if all potential wood-supplying countries imposed a carbon fee on the harvest of wood, and this fee equaled Europe’s financial incentive to burn it, would European power plants have a financial reason to properly factor the carbon into their decisions. No country has done that or seems likely to do so.
In fact, few countries have any obligation to compensate for reduced carbon in their forests because few countries have adopted quantitative goals in the land use sector as part of the Paris accord. Even if countries did try to make up for reduced forest carbon due to bioenergy with additional mitigation of some kind, all Europe would achieve is a requirement that its consumers pay more to do something harmful for the climate so that other countries could then spend additional money to compensate.
Europe has also created a kind of reverse REDD + strategy by treating forest and all other biomass as carbon neutral in its Emissions Trading System, which limits emissions from power plants and factories. While the not yet realized hope behind REDD + is to reward countries for preserving carbon in forests, this bioenergy policy means forest owners can be rewarded for the carbon in their trees—so long as they cut them down and sell them for energy. The higher the price of carbon rises, the more valuable cutting down trees will become. Strangely, this policy also undermines years of efforts to save trees by recycling used paper instead of burning it for energy. Even as recycling polices push consumers to save trees, this policy will encourage others to burn them.
Alternatives include various forms of solar power, which typically generate at least 100 times more useable energy per hectare than bioenergy even on good land—and even more on dry lands and rooftops. Possible future limits on solar if storage does not evolve cannot justify bioenergy today. With solar costs already dropping below $US 0.02/kWh in some world locations, and offshore wind in Europe below $US0.06, solar and wind have many economic advantages over bioenergy, particularly for electricity, even with bioenergy’s incorrect GHG accounting. Unfortunately, these advantages are unlikely to fully negate the political and occasional economic benefits enabled by flawed climate accounting of simply replacing fossil fuels with wood.
Although some scientists support this use of forests, and the IPCC has found it difficult to speak clearly about biomass in the face of different views, the fact that ~800 scientists came forward provides hope of a clearer and stronger message from the scientific community. The fate of the biosphere appears at stake. Individual European countries still have discretion to pursue alternatives to forest biomass. Whatever their fields, all scientists who care should educate themselves, overcome a natural reluctance to venture into a separate and controversial field, speak with great clarity and hold public institutions to account.


  1. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, 08544, New Jersey, USA

    • Timothy D. Searchinger
  2. Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human Environment Systems (IRI THESys), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 10099, Germany

    • Tim Beringer
  3. Statistics Norway, Oslo, N-0131, Norway

    • Bjart Holtsmark
  4. Energy and Resources Group, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, and Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, 94720, California, USA

    • Daniel M. Kammen
  5. School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, 94305, California, USA

    • Eric F. Lambin
  6. Earth and Life Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, B-1348, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

    • Eric F. Lambin
    •  & Jean-Pascal van Ypersele
  7. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, 14473, Germany

    • Wolfgang Lucht
  8. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10099, 8 Berlin, Germany

    • Wolfgang Lucht
  9. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, 63110, Missouri, USA

    • Peter Raven


T.D.S. led the writing. T.D.S., T.B., and B.H. performed calculations. T.B., B.H., D.M.K., E.F.L., W.L., P.R., and J.-P.v.Y. contributed to writing and analysis.

While the directive is essentially a done deal, it still allows countries to decide how to implement it. The system does not work for national energy laws, which will be required by the directive. If power plants have strong incentives to switch from coal to carbon-neutral wood, they will burn wood regardless of any real environmental consequences. Even if countries supplying the wood report emissions through UNFCCC, those emissions are not the power plants' problem. A nation could opt for wind or solar energy over wood bioenergy, though it would need strong incentives. For example, a country could impose a fee on harvesting wood, which would ultimately raise its cost and make wood too expensive for Europe to import for fuel.

Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources ( CCRES)

Friday, October 5, 2018

NEOM – The Destination for the Future

CCRES proudly promotes world's most ambitious project: an entire new land, purpose-built for a new way of living - NEOM - city of the future

NEOM incorporates the new way of life and the strategic crossroads in trade, innovation, and technology with livability at its core

• NEOM aspires to be the safest, most efficient, most future oriented, and best place to live and work

• NEOM is developed independent of the Kingdom’s existing governmental framework with investors, businesses, and innovators consulted at every stage of development

• NEOM's unique location connects Asia, Europe, and Africa, will include the world’s most significant and promising economic sectors

• NEOM land expands over 26,500 km2; its location will facilitate NEOM's rapid emergence as a global hub that has the potential to bring together the best of Arabia, Asia, Africa, Europe and America

• NEOM will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, local aswell asinternational investors

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced the launch of NEOM.

NEOM is born from the ambition of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to see the country develop into a pioneering and thriving model of excellence in various and important areas of life. NEOM aims to thrive the transformation of the Kingdom into a leading global hub through the introduction of value chains of industry and technology.

“NEOM will focus on nine specialized investment sectors and living conditions that will drive the future of human civilization, energy and water, mobility, biotech, food, technological & digital sciences, advanced manufacturing, media, and entertainment with livability as its foundation. The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth and diversification by nurturing international innovation and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth in the Kingdom. NEOM will attract private as well as public investments and partnerships. NEOM will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, local as well as international investors”, said HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

NEOM commands a unique location to bring together the best of Arabia, Asia, Africa, Europe and America. NEOM resides in the Northwestern region of Saudi Arabia, and spans over 26,500 km2. Overlooking the waterfront of the Red Sea to the South and the West, and the Gulf of Aqaba, NEOM enjoys an uninterrupted coastline stretching over 468 km, with a dramatic mountain backdrop rising to 2,500 m to the East. A constant breeze leads to mild temperatures. The wind and sun will allow NEOM to be powered solely by regenerative energy.

NEOM is situated on one of the world’s most prominent economic arteries, through which nearly a tenth of the world’s trade flows. Its strategic location will also facilitate the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects Asia, Europe and Africa, enabling 70% of the world's population to reach it in under eight hours, which brings the potential to combine the best of major global regions in terms of knowledge, technology, research, teaching, learning, living and working.
The site will also become the main entrance to the King Salman Bridge, linking Asia and Africa, which will add to the zone’s economic significance. NEOM’s land mass will extend across the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, rendering NEOM the first private zone to span three countries.

Investments and financing will play a vital role in NEOM, set to be spearheaded by the Kingdom’s economy and supported by PIF – a major global fund with access to a worldwide network of investors and major companies -- set to be brought onboard to drive the success of NEOM.

With the ambition of becoming one of the world’s future economic and scientific capitals, in addition to being the future commerce capital of Saudi Arabia, NEOM is set to attract new foreign direct investment that will contribute to PIF’s long-term growth strategy aimed at strengthening the Saudi Arabian economy.
NEOM is developed to be independent of the Kingdom’s existing governmental framework, excluding sovereignty. NEOM will adopt a regulatory framework that fosters technological as well as societal innovation and entrepreneurship in accordance with international best practices. Investors, businesses, and innovators will be consulted at every step of the development in how best to create the economic framework, design the urban plans, and attract top quality talent that will drive the growth of this zone and its resident population.

“NEOM will be constructed from the ground-up, on greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be distinguished from all other places that have been developed and constructed over hundreds of years and we will use this opportunity to build a new way of life with excellent economic prospects. Future technologies form the cornerstone for NEOM’s development: Disruptive solutions for transportation from automated driving to passenger drones, new ways of growing and processing food, healthcare centered around the patient for their holistic well-being, wireless high speed internet as a free good called “digital air”, free world-class continuous online education, full scale e-governance putting city services at your fingertips, building codes that make net-zero carbon houses the standard, a city layout that encourages walking and bicycling and all solely powered by renewable energy just to name a few. All of this will allow for a new way of life to emerge that takes into account the ambitions and outlooks of humankind paired with best future technologies and outstanding economic prospects”, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman added.

NEOM will achieve its ambitious goals of becoming among the top secure areas in the world – if not the most– by adopting the future technologies in the fields of security and safety. This will raise the standards of public life activities and ensure the safety and protection of residents, visitors, and investors.

All services and processes in NEOM will be 100% fully automated, with the goal of becoming the most efficient destination in the world, and in turn be implemented on all activities such as legal, government, and investment procedures among others. Additionally, NEOM will be subject to the highest sustainability standards, and will provide all transactions, procedures, and claims through paperless and electronic means.

A new concept for the workforce will be implemented, based on attracting high-caliber human resources with unique competencies for full-time innovation, decision making and business leadership. Repetitive and arduous tasks will be fully automated and handled by robots, which may exceed the population, likely making the NEOM's GDP per capita the highest in the world. All these elements will put NEOM at the world’s forefront in terms of efficiency which will make it the best destination in the world to live in.


NEOM is the world’s frst independent special zone stretching over three countries. It is set to become a new vibrant destination located in North- Western Saudi Arabia. Expected to emerge as a leading global hub that exemplifes the future of human civilization by ofering its inhabitants an idyllic lifestyle combined with exceptional economic prospects, NEOM seeks to attract top talent from around the world to push the boundaries of innovation like never before and drive the growth of this zone and its residents.


This special zone is located in North-Western Saudi Arabia and is set to include territory from within the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, to comprise a total area of 26,500 km2. NEOM will provide a plethora of unique development opportunities, as the project’s strategic coastal Red Sea location is notable for its:


Approximately 10% of the world’s trade fows through the Red Sea. Connecting Asia, Europe, Africa and America, the zone will enable 70% of the world’s population to reach it in under eight hours.


The unique geographical location of NEOM ensures a temperate climate, roughly about 10°C cooler – on average – than its surrounding areas and the rest of the GCC. Cradled in a mountainous region that is home to breathtakingly diverse terrain in North of Saudi Arabia, the area earmarked for the development also enjoys cooler winds coming in from the Red Sea for the best possible climate for future residents. Incredible terrain that ofers:
1. Untouched beaches with more than than 468 km of pristine coastline and several spectacular islands.
2. Scenic mountains reaching up to 2,500m in height, with views across the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, where during parts of winter some are covered in snow.
3. Idyllic and peaceful desert expanses that astound the visitors.


The blank slate upon which NEOM is set to be developed provides unique opportunities. The fundamental distinction from traditional urban planning projects is the new technology that will be built into the blueprints of the infrastructural framework.


Situated in an area rich in wind and solar energy resources, the location of NEOM provides an ideal environment in which to develop renewable energy projects. Perennial solar resources (20 MJ/m²). Ideal wind speed (an average of 10.3 m/s). The area is also rich in oil and gas as well as mineral resources. The use of such resources will have to live up to the unmatched high sustainability standards.


NEOM ofers unique opportunities and advantages to leading investors and business owners worldwide, with the aim of stimulating GDP growth in the Kingdom. This project ofers potential investors:
Direct access to the Saudi Arabian market and global markets, given its unique geographic location as a hub that links three continents. Comprehensive supply and innovation systems. Funding and fnancial incentives.
Favorable industry specifc regulatory environment paired with international trade laws.
An infrastructural environment which puts the human frst and technology in its hands to experience the future frst.
Redirecting Saudi spend abroad back indirectly into NEOM. This is an incredible opportunity, as Saudis spend signifcant amounts on tourism ($15 billion), healthcare ($12.5 billion), education ($5 billion) and general investment abroad ($5 billion).


An idyllic living environment and rich quality of life.
Technology-based civil services in health, education, transport, entertainment and other fields. Advanced urban planning.
Many opportunities for employment and personal growth. World-standard social norms in culture, arts and education.


The NEOM project is set to transform the Kingdom into a leading global innovation and trade hub through the introduction of value chains of traditional and future industries and technologies to stimulate local industry, private sector job creation and GDP growth in the Kingdom.


Born from the ambition of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to see the country develop into a pioneering and thriving model of excellence, the NEOM project targets the achievement of the three following pillars of Vision 2030:


A destination at the top of the world’s most livable cities index. Developing the information and digital sectors that contribute to the Kingdom’s GDP.
The promise of becoming an aspirational society that demonstrates the future of human civilization, sought-after as a place to live and work by local, regional and international talent.


Favorable business environment and regulations.
Incentives for attracting foreign companies and investments. Eleven sectors aimed at diversifying the economy away from oil. Strong contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP and redirecting some of the leakage of overseas back into the base economy.


A vibrant destination that adopts technology in service of humanity.
The full utilization of digital technologies to increase government efciency. Leveraging the latest advancements in sustainability, connectivity and mobility.
The NEOM project aims to develop eleven key economic sectors for the future, in addition to the establishment of industries that curb economic leakage in the Kingdom and the region in general. This will be achieved through the establishment of development funds, that will support these sectors, identifed as:


Includes being fully powered by renewable energy, forward looking energy storage and transport solutions as well as R&D and manufacturing. In addition, utilizing green technology in building water capabilities and maximizing usage efciency.


Includes seaports, airports, autonomous transport solutions such as autonomous vehicles/drones, and others.


Includes biotechnology, human biotechnology and pharmaceuticals manufacturing.


Includes an international innovation center for food technologies, including seawater and desert farming, aeroponics and hydroponics.


Includes new materials in composites and metals, 3D printing, robotics and vehicle manufacturing and much more.


Includes the development of the television and flm industry, the video gaming industry and digital content.


Includes facilities, activities, sporting and cultural entertainment events and others.


Includes artifcial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, data centers, the Internet of Things and e-commerce.


The world’s insatiable appettite for a breathtaking experience will soon realise NEOM’s unique culture and exceeds all expectations.


Global sporting visionaries, athletes and fans coming to NEOM will become part of a sporting revolution.


Includes housing, education, security and safety, green spaces, healthcare, hospitality and hotels.


NEOM is positioned to become an aspirational society that denotes the future of human civilization by ofering its inhabitants a lifestyle that surpasses that of any other metropolis, through the development of a unique societal experience that encompasses:


Ofering systems conducive to investment.


Ofering a comfortable and enjoyable. community with the highest quality of life that includes a combination of beautiful beaches and mountains and untouched land, along with best-in-class education, arts and culture facilities.


Ofering a multicultural environment that nurtures a proactive and diverse community.


Ofering high quality education that caters to everyone at all stages of development.


Ofering fast and efcient mobility across NEOM.


Ofering ample housing and facilities for everyone


Ofering a safe, secure and stable society.


Ofering world-class healthcare facilities, using advanced capabilities to provide an all-round service.


The futuristic vision of the project comprises six main pillars that will be adopted across NEOM:


NEOM provides its residents with comfortable living conditions set within an idyllic society that promotes inclusion and encourages personal growth and lives by world-class social norms.


NEOM will allow its residents to reach many locations via walking or biking and also have an unprecedented transportation infrastructure, built on future transportation technologies.


NEOM government services will be fully automated and most easily accessible to its residents .


NEOM will provide its residents “digital air”, free highest-speed Internet and free online continuous education at their fngertips.


NEOM will be solely powered by renewable energy and buildings will have a net zero carbon footprint.


Serving as a laboratory for innovative construction techniques and materials operating with complete fexibility to meet future requirements.


One of the project’s main advantages is the redirection of the Kingdom’s economic leakage back into the country:


The eleven sectors outlined for development will return about $70 billion in revenue back into the Kingdom, by way of commodities currently imported from abroad, through the potential of local production of vehicles, machinery and communication equipment.


The project will provide new opportunities in previously non-existent sectors for Saudi Arabian investors, within an environment that adopts favorable business laws and a system conducive to growth. Thus, part of the investment leakage issue will be addressed.


NEOM will ofer a new local tourist destination for Saudi citizens to visit, while ensuring that their capital is injected back into the local economy.
NEOM will be backed by more than $500 billion over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, as well as local and international investors. NEOM’s contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP is projected to reach at least $100 billion by 2030, in addition to its per capita GDP – projected to become the highest in the world.

For further information on NEOM please visit

Without generous private donations the CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES would be unable to continue the valuable work it does in bringing objective information to an often overheated debate.

Making a donation is simple: a cheque payable to CROATIAN CENTER of RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES can be posted to the following address:


Medarska 24,
10 000, Zagreb,

or on


BANK ACCOUNT 2484008-1105745975

IBAN HR0324840081105745975