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The use of biomass for producing energy is attracting increasing interest from a number of European countries in lieu of recent EU targets for carbon reduction.

EU Looks to Develop Biomass Markets for Energy Production

The use of biomass for producing energy is attracting increasing interest from a number of European countries in lieu of recent EU targets for carbon reduction.

The use of biomass for producing energy is attracting increasing interest from a number of European countries in lieu of recent EU targets for carbon reduction.

Having biomass available in large quantities is now an important concern, however. According to a recent report in Renewable Energy World, it is of great interest to identify and explore biomass resources that are not utilized at the moment, especially if they are not applicable for food or feed.

To address these concerns head-on, the EUBIONET III program operates to share “Solutions for biomass fuel market barriers and raw material availability.

The primary objectives of this project are to increase the use of biomass-based fuels in the EU and to promote international trade of biomass fuels to help support reasonable pricing.

Because the economic engine underlying this type of alternative fuels, it is also hoped that the EUBIONET III project will help spur sustainable biomass fuel trade. As such,  EUBIONET III has been focusing on the following topics:

•            Trade barriers

•            Price mechanisms

•            Legislative and technical frameworks

•            New and unexploited biomass resources

•            District heating and cooling with biomass

•            Industrial applications

The project has 19 partners from 19 European countries. It began in September 2008 and will finish this August. The project has been supported by Intelligent Energy Europe.

Presently, firewood is the most used biomass in Europe (estimated at 30 percent of total). Industrial by-products and residues represent the next biggest biomass types: use of solid by-products covers 20 percent of the total consumption, whilst the share of spent liquors (mainly black liquor) is 15 percent. Forest residues come next with 11 percent share of the total figure, and are followed by herbaceous and fruit biomass resources (7 percent) and refined wood fuels (5 percent).

It should be noted that the use of pellets has increased in many countries, however, demand for them far exceeds production. Also, agro-industrial residues are not currently being used for energy purposes.

The environmental and supply challenges accompanying biomass are abundant, but so are the outcomes. Of the estimated biomass potential in Europe, only 48 percent is currently being exploited – and experts believe there is there is much unexploited potential, especially when it comes to supplies such as municipal waste.

Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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