Canadian Biomass Magazine

Biomass performance: EU and USA

March 3, 2011
By Canadian Biomass

Mar. 3, 2011 – Two reports highlight biomass industry challenges over the past year, as well as future aims for biomass heat and power in the European Union and the United States.

EU reports highlight biomass promise and challenges
Argus Media
Perpignan, France – Two European Union
reports show the strength of biomass energy generation and highlight the level
to which member states will depend on biomass to meet renewable energy targets
by 2020. The findings come at a time when subsidies to the biomass industry may
come under pressure following state expenditure cuts.

The latest EU figures from 2009 show a
steady growth in primary energy production from biomass. But renewable energies
are under political pressure following the financial crisis of 2008. Already
this year, the French public audit office said subsidies to biomass should be
scaled back.

The EurObserver report also notes
differences in national policy emphases. It acknowledges the leading role
played by Scandinavian countries, Germany, and Austria, which have been
“subsidising biomass electricity for over a decade.” It notes, “Political
resolve has arrived much more recently in other countries such as France, the
UK, and the Baltic states.”

The financial crisis also hit
biomass-generated energy production in established biomass nations such as
Finland. The country saw a 16.5% fall in electricity generation from biomass
between 2008 and 2009, from 10.1 to 8.4 TWh, as the economic crisis closed down
dual purpose energy generators from the lumber and paper industries.


However, wood remains by far the largest single
source of renewable energy power production in the EU, at 47% of the total
renewables mix in 2009. Since 2001, electricity production from biomass has
increased on average by 14%/year, from 20.8 to 62.2 TWh. Generation in 2020 is
estimated to reach 152.2 TWh. Between 2008 and 2009, electricity generation
rose by 7.4%, and the number of biomass plants has doubled since 2004 to around
800 units.

Some of the biggest strides in hiking
output in recent years have come from the increased installation of cogeneration
units that provide both power and heat. While electricity generation rose from
22.3 TWh in 2008 to 23.3 TWh in 2009, cogeneration facilities boosted output
from 35.6 TWh to 38.9 TWh over the same period.

U.S. biomass markets uneventful in 2010
William Perritt | RISI
Lost River, WV – Last year proved a low
volatility period for feedstock demand among biomass energy and wood pellet
manufacturers in North America, keeping raw material price pressure minimal
while indicating less-than-robust end markets. | READ MORE

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