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Bioheat to multi-utility climate solution

According to the calendar (mid-November), we should be well into the 2020/2021 heating season up here in the northern hemisphere. For a homeowner like the undersigned, that usually means that the chimney sweep has swept and vetted the chimney during August/September and pellet consumption begins to rise as the boiler transitions from hot water only mode to hot water and heat.

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A local woodchip-fired district heat plant in rural south-central Sweden fires on a light frosty morning in mid-October 2018.

The latter has yet to happen in earnest as it is still unseasonably warm. Good news for home economics, less so perhaps for pellet producers and district heating suppliers. Nonetheless, according to a report from Bioenergy Europe, fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources still dominate the European heating and cooling sector – 80 percent in 2018.

This highly significant since space and water heating represent 75 percent of energy consumption in European homes, and as a whole, the heating and cooling sector represents 51 percent of final energy consumption in Europe and approximately 27 percent of EU carbon emissions.

Thus decarbonising this sector is crucial for European carbon neutrality goals. Renewable heat solutions, including bioenergy, are key in making that happen. Indeed, Bioenergy Europe’s report shows that bioheat accounted for 85 percent of all renewable heat consumption in Europe in 2018, or almost 17 percent of the total energy sources used for heating.

District heating with renewable heat and residual heat sources is an efficient way to decarbonise the heat supply in many European cities. While well established and prevalent in some countries such as the Nordic and Baltic states as reported in this issue, the concept of developing distributed energy and associated infrastructure systems other than electricity and gas is catching on – Vattenfall Heat UK just one such example.

Process heat represents more than 60 percent of energy use in the European manufacturing industry. Amazingly, Bioenergy Europe’s report also finds that 99 percent of renewable heat used by industry in 2018 comes from biomass, demonstrating that bioenergy is fundamental in aiding the transition of industry, to carbon-neutral energy systems, like the ECLUSE superheated steam network in Belgium.

Moreover, the report found that 49 percent of bioheat consumed in 2018 was found in the residential sector, much of it supplied in the form of pellets as in the undersigned’s household. And as Bioenergy Europe points out, it is the small and medium appliances that dominate, with their modernization, correct maintenance, and installation becoming key to reducing fossil carbon emissions and curbing local air emissions.

The association together with the European Pellet Council (EPC) has recently launched a new dedicated campaign initiative called “Switch4Air” that aims to raise awareness of how the bioenergy sector can contribute to the improvement of air quality in Europe. With the impending heating season,

To continue reading this article, which appears in the latest issue of Bioenergy International (no. 5/2020), you need to be a subscriber. The link provides the remainder of this article along with a preview of the contents and articles that appear in this issue as well as details on how to subscribe. Note that as a magazine subscriber you get access to the e-magazine and articles like this before the print edition reaches your desk!

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