DONG Energy to stop all use of coal by 2023

DONG Energy has reduced the consumption of coal by 73% since 2006. Now the Danish energy company is taking the next step as it aims to phase out coal completely from its power and heat generation by 2023. The company will replace coal with biomass and ensure that it originates from sustainable sources.

DONG Energy is converting its power stations to produce green power and heat based on sustainable biomass instead of coal and gas. The biomass is wood pellets and wood chips, primarily made from sawdust and other residue products. This has a considerable impact on the carbon footprint of the company. DONG Energy has reduced their CO2 emissions from power and heat generation by 54% since 2006. They now aim for a 96% reduction by 2023, compared to 2006.

“We have now defined a new target of phasing out coal completely from our production by 2023, because coal is the type of fossil energy causing the highest amount of CO2 emissions”, says Filip Engel, Director of Group Sustainability in DONG Energy. “When replacing coal with biomass, it is essential that the biomass is sustainable. The incineration of biomass must be CO2 neutral, and biodiversity needs to be protected,” he concludes.

That is why the company has introduced the Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP) certification scheme in 2016, developed in collaboration with other European energy companies. The SBP scheme enables them to verify that the sourced biomass meets their sustainability requirements.

To get certified, the biomass producers have to comply with a number of requirements. Among these is their ability to trace the raw material back to the original source and document that it is sustainable. Third-party auditors conduct regular control visits to check if the producers meet the requirements in, for instance, the SBP standard. It can be a challenge for producers to document the traceability of especially sawdust and other residue products from production of wood materials. Moreover, many suppliers have not been used to the requirement of documenting sustainability by means of certification:

“It has been a valuable process. The bioenergy sector has been driving the development of sustainability in the entire wood and forestry industry in the Baltics,” says Raul Kirjanen, CEO of Graanul Invest, a supplier of biomass to DONG Energy power stations.

“It is good to secure the sustainability documentation so nobody can be in any doubts as to whether the biomass is sustainable,” he concludes.

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