• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm

News & Views

Enviva’s CEO defends an industry under fire: ‘don’t confuse science with opinions’

Investors are divided over whether they should pump capital into biomass energy. Time for Net Zero Investor to sit down with the CEO of one of the largest biomass players in the world

Content Tags: Interview  Energy  US  Europe  UK 

As net zero efforts and environmental considerations are increasingly an integral part of any mature investment strategy, investors turn more and more to providers of alternative energies with renewables being a real buzzword in the industry at the moment. 

One of those solutions is biomass energy, generated from wood and wood waste, biogas from landfill waste, sewage and industrial wastewater and animal waste.

Investors, however, are divided over whether they should pump capital into biomass as the technology of burning raw substances for energy production has sparked a heated sustainability debate in Europe and the US as the practice is considered controversial by some.

To address these investor concerns head on, Net Zero Investor sits down with Thomas Meth, president and CEO of Enviva, one of the largest biomass companies in the world.

Say 'biomass' and many investors pause. 

Yes, the biomass industry and its market is still young. But it has grown significantly over the last few years in line with governments’ and businesses’ ambitions to phase out fossil fuels and decarbonize their energy supply. Apart from Europe, Asia is a strong growth region as global economies come to terms with the urgency of replacing base-load fossil fuels with renewable alternatives. 

At the moment, biomass is predominantly used in the traditional energy sector, complementing wind and solar in providing renewable power and heat. It is a very important element in the renewable energy mix as other clean technologies such as hydrogen and heat pumps are not yet available at scale.

But we also see growth of biomass as a key energy input and feedstock in hard-to-abate industries. There is an increasing amount of use cases for biomass generation in industries such as construction, steel, cement, lime, as well as liquids, biomethane and sustainable aviation fuels. 

Sure, but biomass has been heatedly debated in context of EU policy and at national level in a range of European markets, with many investors fiercely sceptical and industry observers and environmentalists outright hostile. How do you view these debates?

We always welcome a healthy debate and engage with all levels of stakeholders to find constructive and workable solutions; it is an important tool to help streamline and improve our industry. But let’s not confuse science with opinions. Leading climate research authorities such as the UN IPCC and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have time and again reiterated that bioenergy from sustainable forest management is an integral climate change mitigation measure. 

This has been echoed by the UK’s own Committee on Climate Change, and in 2017, the UK Department of Business completed a study that confirmed wood fibre sourced using practices employed in the Southeast U.S. provides a drop-in, renewable substitute for coal and natural gas.

So what’s the appeal for investors, in your view?

Well, a global demand for sustainable biomass production and innovation in biomass application and use. The size of the biomass market is set to continue to grow as we enter a new era of applications for hard-to-abate industries. By 2026, the global pellet market alone is forecast to exceed 62 million tonnes from a level of 49 million tonnes in 2022. To that end, Enviva is seeking to increase its production capacity by over 70% in the next five years, which involves adding four new plants each with 1.1 million metric tons per year to its portfolio.

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In times of ESG and green investments, investors are seeking to make conscious decisions about investments that combine ethical climate change solutions and strong underlying growth potential. Biomass meets these criteria. It is a versatile commodity that will enable new pathways for growth for the foreseeable future. For example, combining bioenergy with carbon capture and storage and opportunities to defossilise the shipping industry with bio-based fuels present very appealing investment propositions.


Investors are seeking investments that combine climate change solutions and strong underlying growth potential. Biomass meets these criteria.

Thomas Meth

We just saw the European Union’s trilogue negotiations conclude with an agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive III in which woody biomass continues to be recognized as a renewable energy source in the EU. Specific to the UK, which is amongst the leading countries in renewables in the region, biomass plays an important role in the country’s energy mix providing 11% of the UK’s renewable power – which covers about 5 million households.

These are all encouraging signs of regulatory strongholds and certainty in the region, which gives us additional certainty of the industry’s growth potential in Europe. I am confident that it will provide a strong platform for growth. In my view, we must now focus on moving forward with putting words into action and delivering on our climate objectives. The regulatory sustainability frameworks have been debated for a very long time, and this has somewhat slowed down the pace and investment that are required to tackle climate change.

You mentioned the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII) at EU level. The trilogue negotiations recently concluded. What signal do you think the agreement sends?

That is correct. The EU trilogue negotiations concluded with an agreement on the Renewable Energy Directive III [REDIII], confirming that biomass will continue to be recognized as a 100% renewable energy source in the EU. 

Encouragingly, the agreement does not impose restrictions on 'primary woody biomass', it will be fully counted as renewable and zero-rated in the EU Emissions Trading System, providing sustainability criteria is fulfilled. In my view, the decision sends an important and clear message to the market that biomass must continue to be a strong pillar to build on in the journey to net zero.


Biomass plays an important role in the country’s energy mix providing 11% of the UK’s renewable power, which covers about 5 million households.

Thomas Meth

Can you elaborate on the future role of biomass in hard-to-abate industries?

This is a very exciting growth area for our business, and there seem to be endless opportunities on the horizon. The push for net zero is a great challenge for a vast number of industries in the manufacturing sector, for example the steel producing industry or other companies with needs for high-temperature process heat. 

Traditionally, these businesses have heavily relied on coal, and are under immense pressure to find alternatives which have the capability of producing high temperatures albeit with a smaller emissions footprint. Biomass is a proven, available, and attractive solution, and there’s growing interest in this field across a variety of industries, from steel to lime to cement.

Maybe even more exciting are new technologies where biomass will be utilized as a feedstock, usually through pyrolysis, to create bio-based liquids. This can be anything from sustainable aviation fuel and bio-ethanol to bio-methanol and bio-polymers. There’s huge demand for these new technologies, especially in the chemicals industry but also in the aviation and automobile industry. Enviva is actively working with stakeholders in this field, and it’s fantastic to see that, for example, biomass can soon contribute to making flying an environmentally conscious option.

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Content Tags: Interview  Energy  US  Europe  UK 

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