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AEBIOM: European commitments on COP21 will not be reached without bioenergy

Bioenergy currently contributes to 61% of the total share of renewables, according to the latest European Biomass Association’s (AEBIOM) Statistical Report.

Biomass is on the way to become the first European energy source, surpassing coal and has the potential to deliver more, the association says.

Often overlooked, the heating and cooling sector accounts for half of the EU-28’s energy consumption and is dominated by fossil fuels (82%).

Installing new pellet-fuelled stoves in homes, efficient woodchip boilers in schools, hotels, and shops could dramatically improve EU-28 energy independency, the report reads.

“Bioenergy is on the verge of becoming the first indigenous fuel in Europe, a great opportunity for more energy independence, growth, and jobs,” said Gustav Melin, AEBIOM president.

European forests are steadily growing at a rate of 322,800 hectares per year – almost equivalent to a football field every minute – which according to AEBIOM means Europe has natural resources for sustainable bioenergy development.

Through active, sustainable forest management, wood harvesting can actually increase forest productivity and carbon stock capacity, which is one the reasons why bioenergy and forests have seen parallel growth over the past decade.

However, bioenergy use remains modest when compared to fossil fuel consumption, and its share of 61% has remained the same since AEBIOM’s report in 2015.

While China and the US have energy dependencies below 20%, the EU imports 53% of its energy.

In comparison, bioenergy imports actually represent only 4.4%, a mere drop when compared to imported fossil fuels, and to realise the full potential of bioenergy, a stable policy framework is required.

With nonbinding targets on renewables at national level and constantly postponed legislation on biomass sustainability, political uncertainty is already having repercussions on investment in renewables.

“Progress in renewables should never be taken for granted. If bioenergy loses its edge in Europe, past efforts will be undermined and oil will fill the space left,” continued Melin.