Statistics are essential to follow market trends, build strategies and support policy making. The complexity of the bioenergy sector makes it difficult to gain a clear picture of the sector, its dynamics and its future potential. The European Biomass Association, publishes every year a comprehensive collection of data on biomass, to contribute to both a better understanding of bioenergy and to further developments of the bioenergy market in Europe.
Renewable Energy Figures: an Overview
2012, or better the year when European renewable energy production (177 Mtoe) overtook the production of energy from indigenous coal (167 Mtoe), natural gas (133 Mtoe) and oil (77 Mtoe). On the same year, energy from renewable sources has contributed to an extimated 14.1% of gross final energy consumption in the EU28, compared to 8.3% in 2004, the first year for which this data is available.
The highest shares of renewable energy in final energy consumption in 2012 were found in Sweden (51.0%), Latvia (35.8%), Finland (34.3%), Austria (32.1%); the lowest in Malta (1.4%), Luxembourg (3.1%), the United Kingdom (4.2%) and the Netherlands (4.5%). Estonia, Bulgaria and Sweden had already achieved their 2020 targets in 2012.
Regarding sectorial needs, a third of the total energy was consumed within the transport sector (33%), followed by households (26%), the industrial sector (25%) and services (13%) . In general between 2001 and 2012, decreases were recorded in the consumption within industry (-13%) and households (-9%); whereas increases were recorded in services (10%) and the transport sector (6%).
However, Europe still remains alarmingly fossil-fuels dependent: 85% from oil, 62% from coal and 66% from natural gas – not to mention its extremely high dependency on uranium.
Bioenergy represents the major share of the primary production of renewable energy in general – at aggregated level. Biomass accounted for instance for 65,43% of the primary production in 2012, followed by hydro (16,24%) and wind power (9,97%).
Bioenergy also generates economic activity and employment in Europe. Earlier studies have shown that the labour required to produce biomass fuels in the EU is approximately 4 to 10 times greater than that needed for fossil fuels, and total direct employment (including power generation) is 3 to 4 times greater than for fossil fuel systems. In 2012, the bioenergy sector had roughly 490.000 employees and the added value of the bioenergy industry was estimated at EUR 47.887 million.
Biomass from Forestry
The area covered by forests and other wooded land in the EU-28 is steadily increasing. The annual forest harvest corresponds to only 62% of the annual forest increment therefore EU forest stock is increasing each year by 289 million m³. Over the past 20 years (1990 to 2010) the area of forest cover and other wooded land increased in total by 4.9%, equivalent to an average increase of 0.2% per annum. In 2010 (latest available statistics from Eurostat), the EU-28 had approximately 179 million hectares of forests and other wooded land, corresponding to 45% of its land area:
The total growing stock of forest and other wooded land in the EU-28 reached around 24.4 billion m³ over bark in 2010: Germany had the highest share (14.3%), followed by Sweden (13.8%) and France (10.6%). Germany also had the largest growing stock in forests available for wood supply in 2010, around 3.5 billion m³, while Finland, Poland, France and Sweden each reported between 2 and 2.6 billion m³. The net annual increment in forests available for wood supply was also highest in Germany, rising by 107 million m³ in 2010 (13.8 % of the total increase for the EU28), while Sweden, France and Finland each accounted for around 12 % of the annual increment across the EU.
Overall pellet production continues to grow in EU28, amounting for more than 12 million tonnes in 2013. However a closer look at national figures reveals a heterogeneous landscape. As the infographic below shows, 13 countries with the largest production correspond to two thirds of the total EU production in 2013 (more than 8 million tonnes).
Although the worldwide largest pellet plants are mainly located in other regions (e.g. North America, Russia, etc.), Europe (EU28) stands out as the key player with an impressive production able to cover two third of EU’s need.
While production was stagnant between 2012 and 2013 in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Germany, all the other countries show a growth in their production. As displayed on the map below, 5 EU countries had more than 40 plants on their territory: Sweden (70), Germany (57), France (46), Spain (42) and Poland (40). However only Sweden, Germany and Latvia were able to produce more than 1 million tonnes of pellet a year (2013).
As expected, EU28 countries rank highly among the world’s top pellet consuming countries. Within EU28, two to three different markets can be identified as presented on the EU map below: markets driven by power, heat, and mixed markets. By having 5% or less of their pellet consumption for heat production, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands clearly are market driven by power production. The same could also be said for Belgium. Italian, German, Austrian and French markets are driven by heat, with pellets being exclusively consumed for heating purposes. Sweden and Denmark could be considered as mixed markets since CHP plants – producing both electricity and heat – are responsible for a large proportion of their overall consumption.