European biomass landscape

Considering the EU-28 gross inland consumption of biomass for energy, solid biomass clearly appears as  the main source of fuel consummed, representing 70% (95.285 ktoe) of the total. The liquid biofuel and biogas sectors accounted respectively for 11,4% and 11,5% of the total gross inland consumption of bioenergy. Municipal waste for energy completes the picture with 7,1%. Zooming in on the internal structuration of the solid biomass market, it can be observed that the residential consumption of solid biomass dominates with 41% of total solid biomass consumption. Wood pellets, often at the top of the media agenda accounts for 6,3% of the total biomass used for bioenergy, while wood chips, for industrial and small scale uses, represent one of the most common type of fuel used in the sector.


Regarding the liquid biofuels situation, biodiesel gross inland consumption remains dominant with 75% of the total. The main development in the biodiesel sector between 2010 and 2015 has come from the growing use of recycled vegetable oil (fourfold increase). Bioethanol represents 18% of all liquid biofuels. A minor share of it (2%) is coming from 2nd generation biofuels. Biogas is largely dominated by the agricultural sector and food industries representing more than 70% of the biogas consumption.

The statistics on solid biomass consummed in Europe are enlightening, going against the clichés. In fact, small and medium size installations (1- 20MW) consumming woodchips and/or pellets
represent an overwhelming majority of plants (88%) with more than 4.000 plants spread throughout all member states. On the contrary, installations with a capacity higher than 20MW are limited in number, representing only 12% of the total number of installations (>600 plants). However,looking at the woody fuel consumption of these two groups, it appears that 1-20MW installations consummed only 25% of the fuel wood while installations over 20MW use 75% of the total consumption.  This data shows that the 20MW threshold proposed by the Commission for the implementation of future EU sustainability criteria for biomass (RES II Directive) would be effective and appropriate as it would cover a large share of biomass fuels, while only concerning a limited number of installations, therefore limiting the administrative burden related to proving that the criteria are fulfilled. This is why Bioenergy Europe supports this threshold in the ongoing institutional debate on bioenergy sustainability.

Furthermore, it is important to highlight that all types of installations have to comply with emissions level requirements, ensuring the limited impact of biomass on air quality. The Ecodesign directive is setting minimum emissions levels for solid fuel heating installations below 500kW (stoves and boilers). The Medium Combustion Plant Directive sets minimum emissions levels for installations between 1-50 MW, while the Large Combustion Directive is covering installations above 50 MW. This ensures that the bioheat and biopower sectors, from residential to industrial use, are regulated and comply with air quality requirements.


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All statistics featured in this section come from Bioenergy Europe's 2017 Statistical Report. If you want more insight do not hesitate to download the 'Key Findings' of the report (free of charge) and order a copy of the full report (consult the table of content of the 2017 Edition).

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