Greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting has gained importance in recent years to assess the impact of human activities on the climate and to develop efficient mitigation strategies. Different systems such as REDcert, ISCC, and the SURE-EU system offer different approaches to GHG accounting. This technical article focuses on the SURE-EU system and examines its role, benefits, and differences from other accounting systems such as REDcert and ISCC.
What is the SURE-EU system?
The SURE scheme, or SUSTAINABLE RESOURCES Verification Scheme, is a certification system recognized by both the European Commission and the relevant national authorities in each member state. It assesses the sustainability of biomass and biobased products along the entire value chain. The SURE scheme focuses on reliable and transparent GHG accounting and was developed to provide a consistent method for monitoring and reducing GHG emissions in the EU.
It enables proof that the sustainability criteria set out in the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) have been met for the generation of electricity and heat from biomass. As a tool, SURE confirms the particular importance of electricity and heat generation from biomass as an effective measure in the fight against climate change. However, unlike REDcert, the SURE system does not cover the production of final fuels. Since SURE and REDcert recognize each other, one part of the supply chain can be certified under REDcert and another part under SURE to meet the verification requirement for the entire supply chain.
Transparency and traceability
SURE provides a clear framework for sustainability assessment and product traceability. This is particularly beneficial in supply chains with many stakeholders.
The SURE-EU system can be flexibly adapted to national and regional circumstances, resulting in broader applicability.
SURE enables a systematic comparison of the GHG balance between different products or production processes, which can lead to further optimization.
Difference between SURE, REDcert and ISCC
While REDcert focuses primarily on biogenic fuels and ISCC covers a wide range of applications, SURE offers a specialized approach for the biomass and bioproducts industry.
ISCC is very flexible and globally applicable, while REDcert tends to focus on the European market. SURE offers a middle ground here through its customizable structure.
In terms of transparency and traceability, SURE scores particularly well with its stringent certification process.
Procedure of SURE-EU system
The SURE system uses life cycle analysis (LCA) for GHG accounting. This takes into account emissions from raw material extraction to end use. A special feature is the inclusion of a "hot spot analysis", in which specific areas with high emissions are identified and analyzed separately.
The procedure and process of the SURE-EU system are complex and multi-step to ensure a comprehensive and reliable greenhouse gas (GHG) balance and sustainability assessment. The following is a summary of the typical process:
First steps and documentation requirements
- Self-evaluation: The company or organization seeking certification first conducts a self-evaluation to understand the current status of GHG emissions and sustainability practices.
- Data collection: The next step is to collect all the necessary data needed to evaluate the GHG balance.
- Third party auditing: An independent auditor reviews the data and compliance with SURE standards.
Life cycle analysis (LCA) and hot spot analysis
Life cycle analysis: The data collected is used to perform a life cycle analysis that covers all emissions from raw material extraction and production to disposal or end use.
Hot Spot Analysis: In parallel, a hot-spot analysis is carried out to identify areas within the product life cycle that cause particularly high emissions.
Results and optimization
- Evaluation: The results are evaluated and documented as part of the GHG balance.
- Optimization plans: Based on the hot-spot analysis and LCA, optimization plans are developed.
- Certification: Upon successful auditing and evaluation, the SURE certificate is issued.
Continuous monitoring and improvement
- Monitoring: The company conducts continuous monitoring of GHG footprint and sustainability practices.
- Annual review: An annual re-audit ensures that standards are being met and improvements have been made.
- Recertification: Depending on the results of the annual review, the SURE certificate is renewed or adjusted.
GHG accounting plays a key role in the context of sustainable energy management. The SURE-EU system is a promising tool in this context, characterized by transparency, flexibility and a specific focus on the biomass and bioproducts industry.
The SURE-EU system thus relies on a holistic approach that includes both current emissions and potentials for emissions reduction. The comprehensive approach and procedure ensure a high degree of transparency and credibility, making it an important tool in GHG accounting and sustainable resource management.