Agrobiomass and forest chips are the most underused bioenergy sources
available today; there is potential for increasing their use by 50% from the
present. Increasing biomass fuel use would help attain sustainable development
Thanks to the EUBIONET III project coordinated by VTT Technical Research
Centre of Finland, there is now more accurate information available than ever
before on biomass reserves in the EU. The project involved estimating the
biomass potential in 23 EU Member States and Norway. The annual potential for
biomaterial gained from forests, fields and industry was eventually estimated
at the equivalent of 157 million tonnes of oil.
project, we focused on the technical and economic potential of biomass
reserves and on solid biofuels. If we further assume that about half the waste
generated in the EU is biodegradable, that would translate into the equivalent
of about 37 million tonnes of oil, bringing the total available biomass up to
some 200 million tonnes of oil,” says Senior Research Scientist Eija Alakangas
from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, who was in charge of the
Since the publication of the report, the countries
involved have estimated in their national renewable energy action plans that
about 250 million tonnes of biomass reserves would be required to achieve the
combined goals set. It has not yet been estimated at the EU level what the
volume required for sustainable development might be. Moreover, some countries
import their biomass fuel from other EU Member States or from outside the EU.
use of bioenergy exploits less than half the bioenergy potential of the 24 EU
Member States studied. The greatest potential for increase is in forest chips
and agrobiomass. Finland aims to use forest chips to produce energy equivalent
to the yield of 13.5 million cubic metres of solid fuel or 25 TWh* ,” says
The data on biomass reserves established during
the project are publicly available, and best practices are being exchanged
between countries. This is good for Finnish technology exports. Information on
biomass fuel chains, for example, is useful for enterprises.
addition to exploring the biofuel potential of the EU and its sufficiency, the
project studied sustainable development criteria for solid biofuels, generated
information for use in standardisation and monitored biofuel price development
since 1999. The project yielded information useful for new quality standards
for solid biofuels, and a price index for international trade was developed
together with businesses.
Solid biofuel standards will make
international trade in biomass fuels easier. FOEX Indexes Ltd, an enterprise
specialising in monitoring indices, uses a standard as the basis for the index
for industrial pellets. The project aimed to increase biomass fuel use in the
EU by finding ways to remove existing obstacles to trade.
EU will make use of the findings of the project in its preparatory work. EU
criteria for sustainability of solid and gaseous biofuels will be drawn up in
the future, and the country reports and summary produced in the project will
provide valuable inputs.
Index for monitoring pellet price
Wood pellet trade was evaluated in the project
using customs codes and by collecting price data on biomass fuels. FOEX
publishes an industrial pellet index based on prices in the Baltic Sea region,
and in the future this will be extended to include forest chips. The FOEX
index is based on actual sales. Information has also been gathered in
countries not covered by the price index.
project, a new customs code will be introduced for wood pellets to monitor the
pellet trade from 2012.
EU sustainability and energy policy
will influence how biomass fuel use develops in the future. Major pellet users
have proposed that greenhouse gas emissions should be calculated for solid
biofuels and that industrial pellets should have a quality classification and
certification system of their own. Transport emissions are also an issue in
international trade. The necessity and possible content of an industrial
pellet standard and certification system were explored in the project through
Major exporters of wood pellets to the EU
include the USA, Canada and Russia. Most of the imported wood pellets are
blended with coal and used at large power plants.
EUBIONET III project ran from 2008 to 2011. Together with its earlier
incarnations, the project has lasted altogether 12 years. The Ministry of
Trade and Industry and its successor the Ministry of Employment and the
Economy have provided partial funding for the project throughout its
existence. The project forms part of the Intelligent Energy Europe programme.
TWh = 1 billion kWh of energy. 1 million tonnes of oil (Mtoe) equals to 11.63
TWh of energy.
fuel markets in Europe EUBIONET III Study