Biomass-to-energy is booming

Worldwide the pulp and paper sector has dramatically boosted its consumption of woody biomass, with the industry using an estimated 75 million tonnes of biomass in 2009.

The figures come from Wood Resource Quarterly, which reported that biomass-to-energy use has increased by 51% since 2006, accounting for 18% of the total energy consumption by the pulp and paper industry.

A number of pulp and paper plants have moved away from the consumption of natural fuels with investments into the equipment required for using woody biomass fuels.

Forest-rich nations such as Canada, the US, Brazil and Sweden keep North America and Europe at the top of the table for converting woody biomass into bioenergy but Latin America and Asia have seen the biggest increase in biomass mills. Norway uses 42% biomass, while Sweden is a close second with a usage of 38%.

Regions with a low biomass consumption figure include China, Japan, Australia, Spain and Germany. In these counties it is thought that less than 10% of renewable materials were converted into sustainable energy last year.

This increased utilisation of bark and wood fibre for energy has resulted in pulp mills around the world importing biomass. 53% of woody biomass was purchased from the open market in 2006, which last year increased to 69% in 2009. The facilities in South America and Asia relied less on biomass imports compared to the plants in North America and Europe.