A regulatory framework for defining, testing, and monitoring the quality of biomass fuels used for heating does not exist in Western Balkan countries. The lack of standardization of biomass fuels is a significant obstacle to the development of a sustainable biomass supply and heating market.
Standardization is a modern system controlling and demonstrating the compliance with requirements set out in technical standards – through certification and labeling, to ease logistical procedures, facilitate trade, prevent consumer deception, and improve quality of biomass fuels in the Western Balkans.
The application of technical standards is voluntary, and as such does not impose any regulation. However, national laws and regulations may refer to technical standards and even require compulsory compliance with them. If products (e.g. biomass fuels) is regulated by compulsory technical standards, and they do not satisfy such standards - they cannot be introduced to the market.
The main objective of technical standardization is that all the stakeholders in biomass supply chain follow the same product specifications and deliver the biomass fuels with uniform quality.
The most important international technical standards for biomass fuels include:
ISO 17225 - determines the quality classes and specifications for biomass fuels originating from forestry and agriculture
EN 15234 - defines the procedures to fulfill the quality requirements (quality control) and describes measures to ensure confidence that the biomass fuel specification is fulfilled (quality assurance); it covers the whole supply chain, from the supply of raw materials to point of delivery to the end-user
EN 16214 - defines procedures, criteria, and indicators, including their verification and auditing schemes, to provide the evidence that biomass fuels are produced respecting sustainability principles
Certification is a procedure by which a third party gives a written assurance that a biomass fuel is in conformity with technical standards. The granting of the written assurance or “certificate” is based on the inspection report and is always done by a third party.
In order to count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biomass fuels used must comply with the EU's sustainability criteria. One way for companies to demonstrate that their biofuels comply with the criteria is to participate in voluntary schemes. The EU recognizes a number of voluntary schemes that verify compliance with the sustainability criteria for biomass fuels (see https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/renewable-energy/biofuels/voluntary-schemes for more info).
Labeling of biomass fuels indicates that compliance with technical standards has been verified, and is a form of communication between seller and buyer.