European Biomass Association releases annual bioenergy report

By Katie Fletcher | October 26, 2015

The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) recently released its annual statistical report, providing an outlook on European bioenergy for 2015, with a comprehensive overview of the latest market trends in bioheat, bioelectricty and biofuel sectors.

The report mentions that while indigenous energy production—mentioned as primary in Eurostat—in the EU’s 28 countries is continuing to steadily decrease from 941 million tons in 2000 to 789 million tons in 2013, renewable energy sources (RES) have almost doubled from 97 million tons in 2000 to near 192 million tons in 2013. The report states, “that makes RES the most important indigenous energy source, more important than coal, gas or oil.”

“Today, bioenergy is by far the leading renewable energy source in Europe, accounting for 61.2 percent of all RES energy consumed,” said Cristina Calderón, publishing director of the AEBIOM statistical report.

The countries with the highest production of energy from renewable sources include Germany at 33 million tons, Italy with 23 million tons and France with 23 million tons.

Even though there has been a decrease in total primary energy production, European energy consumption remains higher than in the past. In 2013, the EU’s total energy consumption reached 1.67 million tons, with oil consumption remaining the highest at 33.4 percent, followed by gas with 23.2 percent, solid fossil fuels at 17.2 percent, nuclear at 13.6 percent and renewables with around 11.8 percent.

According to the report, the increasing consumption of bioenergy is expected to continue, and the consumption of biomass for energy should increase by at least 33 million tons by 2020. The increasing demand is attributed to the fact that biomass is the only renewable energy source providing solutions for all energy sectors: transportation, power, and heating and cooling. According to AEBIOM’s 2015 statistical report, 74.6 percent of the biomass consumed today for energy purposes is used to produce heat, or 78.4 million tons; followed by bioelectricity, 13.5 million tons; and biofuels for transportation, 13.1 million tons.

“Biomass is by far the leading renewable energy source,” said Heinz Kopetz, president of World Bioenergy Association. “Its contribution of 123 million tons to the energy supply—primary energy production—is almost as high as that of indigenous gas and higher than that of oil.”

The report mentions how heat accounts for half of EU’s final energy consumption, and that according to the European Commission, this dependency currently costs €1 billion per day in fossil fuel imports to Europe. For this reason, AEBIOM believes biomass can play a crucial role in solving this dependency challenge. Biomass imports represent only 3.84 percent of EU’s bioenergy gross inland consumption. This means that more than 95 percent of bioenergy consumed in Europe is produced within EU borders. Half of them are solid wood fuels. Most of the imported wood fuels are wood pellets followed by wood chips and firewood. The majority of imports comes from North America (37.9 percent), Russia (19.3 percent) and other European countries (34.1 percent).

According to the 2015 report, about 70 percent of total bioenergy feedstock delivered today in Europe originates from the forestry sector and the remaining 30 percent comes from waste and agriculture.

The AEBIOM report touched on the EU’s role in the global wood pellet sector. In 2014, 13.5 million metric tons of wood pellets were produced, making EU the largest producer in the world, amounting to around 50 percent of the global world production. EU production has grown 35 percent from 2010 to 2014. Mild winters and other factors such as the low price of heating oil, the competition with other technologies and the contracting sales of pellet heating appliances have impacted the sector, because pellet production is mainly dedicated to the heat market.

Germany remains the biggest producer with 2.1 million metric tons produced in 2014, followed by Sweden with approximately 1.6 million metric tons and Latvia with more than 1.3 million metric tons.

The EU is also a large wood pellet consumer, responsible for around 74 percent of the world’s consumption, or 18.8 million metric tons. The U.S. consumed about 2.5 million metric tons in 2014, and South Korea is growing with 1.9 million metric tons of wood pellets consumed in 2014.

Italy is the world’s largest user of pellets for domestic heat with nearly 2.9 million metric tons, and Germany is the second largest consumer for heat, followed by Sweden. “In 2014, markets for domestic and commercial heating with pellets have generated an estimated consumption of 11 million metric tons,” said Christian Rakos, president of the European Pellet Council. “Heat markets have now exceeded industrial pellet use which is estimated to reach 7.8 million metric tons this year by a significant margin.”

Also mentioned in the report is the success of ENplus certification. According to the report, with the launch of the certification system, the ENplus pellet market assisted to a fast expansion and it is now estimated to reach 7.8 million metric tons in 2015. This would result in growth of approximately 1.7 million metric tons when compared with 2014 figures in terms of certified production volume.

A summary version of the full report can be downloaded here.

The full report can be ordered here.