New ISO Standards for solid biofuels and waste

What measures should be taken into consideration in the safe handling and storage of solid biofuels? And how should If Insurance incorporate best practice standards?

In this article, Henrik Karlsson, a Risk Engineer at If, shares his knowledge on the new ISO standards and information gathered from conducting surveys.

The Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) has developed a series of new ISO standards for Sweden within the area of solid biofuels and waste. These are international industry best practice standards.

ISO standard seminar

To share information about the new ISO standards, a seminar was held in the spring of 2021, with participants from energy and woodworking companies, recycling companies, fire departments, insurance companies, consultant companies, universities and research institutes. In total, the seminar welcomed around 150 participants, all of whom joined online. Henrik Karlsson presented our view as an insurance company on the storage and handling of solid biofuels.

“As an insurance company, we have a strong interest in avoiding any unnecessary losses or interruptions at our insured sites. Therefore, we work closely with our clients to implement routines and technical solutions to reduce risks and prevent losses,’’ says Karlsson.

The new ISO standards

The new standards for the safe handling and storage of solid biofuels are referred to as ISO 20024, ISO 20049-1 and ISO 21912.

  • The first standard, ISO 20024, focuses on the “safe handling and storage of solid biofuel pellets in commercial applications. The document provides requirements and guidance on how to handle and store biofuel pellets in an industrial process.” (Source:
  • The second standard, ISO 20049-1, focuses on “how to determine self-heating of pelletised biofuels. It provides a general test procedure for quantification of spontaneous heat generation in biofuel pellets. Spontaneous heat generation is a major risk when storing pellets in bulk and a common cause of fire in pellets.” (Source:
  • The third standard, ISO 21912, focuses on the “safe handling and storage of solid recovered fuels. This standard provides principles and requirements for safe handling, treatment and storage of solid recovered fuels.” (Source:

 Three kinds of requirements

The requirements for the safe handling and storage of solid biofuels can be divided into three categories

  1. the legal requirements,
  2.  the insurance requirements,
  3.  the client’s own requirements.

It is imperative to the client’s business that the legal requirements are fulfilled. However, the insurance requirements are also significant, as these help guide the implementation of a robust, resilient and safe production site. The insurance requirements are based on industry best practices such as the ISO standards, together with solid experience. Lastly, the clients’ own requirements for the site can vary considerably and can sometimes exceed what is required from both legal and insurance standards.

“The new ISO standards within this field are much welcomed, as the legal requirements are often quite limited. Even though you might meet, for example, all the legal requirements on the storage of biofuels, it is not a guarantee that the overall risk level is acceptable. One example is here in Sweden where there is no legally required safety distance between large stacks of biofuels and critical machinery or buildings, which could compromise the business in case of a fire,” concludes Karlsson.

As the use of renewable energy is constantly increasing, it is important that the various energy sources are managed and deployed in a safe manner. The Risk Engineers at If insurance are often in dialogue with our clients about how renewable energy sources can be installed and used in safe and reliable ways.

Written by

Caroline Bødkerholm and Henrik Karlsson, If