Biomass is the largest source of renewable energy in Europe
Biomass alone accounts for 68.5% of EU-produced renewable energy, mainly in the form of solid wood biomass for heating:
Despite an already important role, wood as source of energy still has a significant growth potential as a means to fight climate change.
Wood biomass, an untapped resource
Forests cover over 30% of the French territory and a vast proportion of the European geographical area. European forests have experienced continuous growth for 150 years. The annual harvest of timber is not sufficient to counterbalance the natural growth of forests. Furthermore a significant portion of what is currently harvested ends in “wastes” (sawdust, forestry residues, …) which are not valued as of today, but could be used as wood energy.
Wood energy: a local energy resource that creates jobs
Wood is a local resource: it unprofitable if transported for a distance higher than about 200 km. According to the French National Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (the ADEME), the consumption of 1,000 tons of wood creates one permanent job, and a heating plant of 10 MW about 20 permanent jobs. As a comparison, a 10 MW photovoltaic power plant creates about one full time job. Among renewable energies, wood energy has the most favorable impact in terms of jobs creation.
The potential of biomass as a heat source is enormous
Renewable energy policy is rapidly changing the European biomass market. In response to the much-publicized EU Energy 2020 strategy, targeting a 20% share of renewable energy among the total energy consumption, biomass demand is expected to grow by up to 50% within the next decade:
The most spectacular growth takes place in the area of district heating. For instance, the “Grenelle de l’Environment” in France sets a quantitative target of a 12-fold increase of the heat produced annually from biomass and distributed by district heating networks, between 2008 and 2020:
Biomass boilers have a very high efficiency
A wood boiler consists primarily of five elements:
- a storage silo
- a system of extractors and conveyors of wood pellets / chips to the fireplace
- the boiler consists of a fireplace and a heat exchanger with the network
- a flue gas cleaning system (dust collector)
- an ash removal system
High-value plants with top energy efficiency:
- Energetically, the efficiency of biomass boilers is excellent (90%).
- Socially, wood projects create many jobs in the forestry industry and the supply chain (1 job for 1000 tons, or about two jobs per MW).
- Environmentally, wood is a renewable energy with no CO2 emission through its life cycle. Wood is 2 to 3 times cheaper than fuel oil and photovoltaic energy per kWh produced.