The European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) has released its annual statistical report, providing an outlook on European bioenergy for 2015.
According to the report, bioenergy accounts for more than 60% of all renewable energy consumed in Europe's 28 member countries.
'Today, bioenergy is by far the leading renewable energy source in Europe, accounting for 61.2% of all RES energy consumed,' explains Cristina Calderón, publishing director of AEBIOM's report.
European countries committed in achieving their 2020 renewable energy targets are strongly relying on bioenergy – which represents more than 85% of renewable energy in Eastern European countries such as Estonia, Poland and Latvia.
The report reveals that the final energy consumption of bioenergy has almost doubled from 2000 to 2013 (reaching 105,1 Mtoe1). This trend is set to continue and, according to Members States' projections, the consumption of biomass for energy should increase by at least 33 Mtoe by 2020.
With that, Jean‐Marc Jossart, AEBIOM secretary general, says: 'When it comes to renewable energy discussions, the key role played by bioenergy in Europe is often underestimated, compared to its actual contribution.'
The increasing demand has been attributed to the fact that biomass is the only renewable energy source providing solutions for all energy sectors: transport, power and heating and cooling. The statistical report states that 74.6% of the biomass consumed today for energy purposes is used to produce heat (78.4 Mtoe), followed by renewable electricity (13.5 Mtoe) and biofuels for transport (13.1 Mtoe).
Biomass has the potential to play a crucial role in solving the EU's energy dependency challenge, especially considering that heat accounts for half of EU28's final energy consumption.
According to the European Commission, this dependency currently costs €1 billion per day in fossil fuels imports to Europe. Unlike the massively imported fossil fuels, biomass imports represent today only 3.84% of the EU´s bioenergy gross inland consumption. This means that more than 95% of bioenergy consumed in Europe is produced within EU borders.
According to the latest AEBIOM report, the bioenergy sector also has the potential to further increase. About 70% of total bioenergy feedstock delivered today in Europe originates from the forestry sector, while the rest comes from waste and agriculture. Contrary to some beliefs, EU forest keep growing as only 62% of the annual EU forest growth (in areas available for wood supply) is currently annually harvested.
Bioenergy also fosters considerable economic growth and contributes to job creation in Europe. Employment potential in bioenergy is superior compared to other renewable and non‐renewable energy technologies, due to the additional elements of feedstock production, supply, handling and logistics. Previous studies have already shown that the labour required to produce electricity from biomass is between three and six times higher than for fossil fuels.