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Voluntary schemes

Voluntary schemes set standards for the production of sustainable fuels and gases.

Voluntary schemes and national certification schemes of EU countries help to ensure that biofuels, bioliqui ds and biomass fuels as well as renewable hydrogen and its derivatives (renewable fuels of non-biological origin or RFNBOs), and recycled carbon fuels (RCF) are sustainably produced by verifying that they comply with the EU sustainability criteria, as well as the relevant methodologies for RFNBOs and RCF.

As such, the schemes check that

  • production of feedstock used for the production of biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels  does not take place on land with high biodiversity and that land with a high amount of carbon has not been converted for such feedstock production
  • electricity used for the production of renewable hydrogen is of renewable origin
  • production of renewable fuels and gases leads to sufficient greenhouse gas emissions savings

Several schemes also take into account additional sustainability aspects such as soil, water, air protection and social criteria. For the certification process, an external auditor verifies the whole production chain from the origin of the raw material and energy to the fuel producer or trader.

While the schemes are run privately, the European Commission can recognise them as compliant with the rules included in the Renewable Energy Directive.

Voluntary schemes under the Renewable Energy Directive

The EU sustainability criteria cover the production of fuels and energy from agricultural as well as forest biomass and organic waste. Detailed rules describing the certification process are enshrined in the Implementing Regulation on sustainability certification. The sustainability framework for bioenergy has been complemented by rules ensuring the sustainability of renewable hydrogen and its derivates. The European Commission adopted delegated acts including criteria for the sourcing of renewable electricity that is used for the production of RFNBOs as well as a methodology for determining emission savings of RFNBOs and RCF. 

Interested voluntary schemes may apply for recognition by the Commission under the sustainability framework. The Commission will assess the applications by applying the following assessment protocol. In case schemes are interested to certify also RFNBOs and RCF an additional template will be used.

Recognition criteria

For a scheme to be recognised by the Commission, it must fulfil criteria such as

  • feedstock producers comply with the sustainability criteria and the criteria for RFNBOs production set out in the Renewable Energy Directive and its implementing legislation
  • information on the sustainability characteristics can be traced to the origin of the feedstock
  • all information is well documented
  • companies are audited before they start to participate in the scheme and retroactive audits take place regularly
  • the auditors have both the generic and specific auditing skills needed with regard to the scheme’s criteria

The decision recognising a voluntary scheme has usually a legal period of validity of 5 years.

Approved voluntary schemes and national certification schemes

The Commission has so far formally recognised 15 voluntary and national certification schemes

In addition, the Commission has received applications for recognition under the directive from the following voluntary schemes and national certification schemes

ApplicationsEC positive technical assessment
U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol EU (SSAP EU)                    ✓
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) 
European Renewable Gas Registry (ERGaR) (only for
certification of cross-border trade of biomethane) 
Better Biomass (extension of the scope to also cover forest biomass) 
Green Gold Label (GGL) 
ISCC (extension of the scope to also cover forest biomass)                     ✓
ISCC (extension of the scope to also RFNBOs and RCF) 
CertifHy (RFNBOs) 
REDcert (extension of the scope to also RFNBOs and RCF) 
KZR INiG System (extension of the scope to also RFNBOs and RCF) 
CCEE Hydrogen and Derivatives Certification System (RFNBO) 
SBP (extension of the scope to also cover woody agricultural residues from agricultural lands                        ✓
2BS Voluntary scheme (extension of the scope to also cover forest biomass) 

The recognition by the Commission is not a pre-requisite for certification. EU countries may accept evidence from voluntary schemes or national certification schemes set up by EU countries not recognised by the Commission if the competent authorities in those countries are confident about the quality of the certification services provided by these schemes.


14 MARCH 2024
Q&A for the certification of RFNBOs and RCF
24 JULY 2018
Overview table of pre-ILUC Directive NUTS2 cultivation emissions values
Data reporting template


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