Achieving a carbon-neutral economy will be challenging and requires a portfolio of clean solutions, including sustainable bioenergy. It currently provides 57.4 percent of the renewable energy consumption in the EU and 11 percent of the total energy mix. To continue playing this important role, bioenergy must, with the support of a coherent policy framework, be generated sustainably, allowing significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions compared to fossil fuels says Bioenergy Europe.
Bioenergy Europe has released its Biomass Supply Report 2021, the seventh, and final chapter of its 2021 Statistical Report focusing on the bioenergy landscape as a whole and providing a comprehensive overview on the general EU energy mix and the different energy sources in the EU 27.
The report highlights that despite the significant growth of renewable energy consumption during the last decade, the European energy system is still largely dependent on imported fossil fuels.
As with other European and international climate mitigation scenarios, the report emphasizes that the penetration of clean alternatives like sustainable bioenergy needs to be accelerated to reach climate neutrality by 2050.
Bioenergy has solid environmental benefits, enabling the avoidance of 285 million tonnes of fossil carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is equivalent to around 8.5 percent of EU 27 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019, or approximately the annual emissions of Romania or Spain of the same year.
The main savings were made in the heating sector with almost 160 million tonnes CO2eq, followed by bioelectricity and biofuels for transportation.
Bioenergy is also the main renewable energy in the EU 27 accounting for over 11 percent of the gross final energy consumption in 2019. It contributes to all final usage forms of energy – heat, power, and transport – yet is storable and dispatchable in all seasons and times.
In light of the current high of electricity and gas prices, bioenergy offers a smart and flexible solution for the supply of affordable energy and helps to tackle energy poverty.
An indigenous source that generates revenues and jobs
With an import rate of only 3.4 percent, biomass already represents an important indigenous source supporting rural development and employment across the EU.
In 2018, bioenergy employed almost 708 600 people generating a turnover of EUR 57.6 billion in the EU 27 and the UK. This exceeds the combined turnover of wind- and hydropower in the same year (EUR 56.2 billion).
In 2018, 74 percent of the global bioenergy suppliers were based in the EU 27 and the UK showing that Europe has become the leader in bioenergy technology development, manufacturing, and fuel production processes, and is a major exporter of advanced and innovative equipment and solutions.
This contributes to making the industry more resilient to the disruptions of global value chains, supporting the EU economy, and creating jobs.
A coherent policy framework needed
To reach the EU’s climate objectives, the energy needs to be supplied entirely by renewable energy sources by 2050, and sustainably sourced bioenergy will play a crucial role in this.
Instilling confidence in investors with a long-term policy design and strategy is the first step to achieving a carbon-neutral future.
Bioenergy is the only sector with strict sustainability criteria. They need to be based on a consistent and solid policy framework to ensure a functioning market and prevent the discouraging of investments that would jeopardize the achievement of EU climate targets. On top of this, we need to benefit from all available solutions. Therefore, an appropriate framework to promote negative emissions technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and biochar needs to be established, remarked Jean-Marc Jossart, Secretary-General, Bioenergy Europe.