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Bioelectricity has the power to decarb EU27's remaining power demand by 2050 – Bioenergy Europe

Reaching the EU target of a carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction of at least 55 percent by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 will require the mobilization of the entire renewable energy sector. Biopower plants can be operated to offset fluctuations in the power system, ensuring the stability of the electricity grid and helping with further integration of variable renewables says Bioenergy Europe.

Bioelectricity is the third main source of renewable electricity after hydro and wind, producing 5.3 percent of the total electricity in the EU27 and 15.4 percent of the total renewable electricity 2019 (graphic courtesy Bioenergy Europe).

For the third time since its launch in 2007, the 2021 Statistical Report published by Bioenergy Europe (previously known as AEBIOM) is split into different chapter publications, each chapter covering a different aspect of bioenergy.

First out is the “Bioelectricity Statistical Report 2021” which provides an in-depth analysis of the role of bioenergy in the decarbonization of the EU’s power grid. The “Bioelectricity” report reveals that two-thirds of the electricity generation in the E27U is still provided by non-renewable sources, of which 38 percent is provided by carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

High carbon intensity remains

As a result, the carbon intensity of the electricity in the EU remains significant, with huge variations amongst the Member States.

The report highlights that bioenergy is a crucial contributor to the EU renewable energy targets representing the third main source of renewable electricity after hydro and wind, producing 5.3 percent of the total electricity in the EU27 and 15.4 percent of the total renewable electricity.

The efficiency of the energy generation process is key. In 2019, 72 percent of electricity generated from bioenergy was produced in combined heat and power plants (CHP), a solution improving energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness while ensuring a more flexible and integrated energy system.

Varied across EU27

The prevalence of bioelectricity varies amongst the Member States. The largest producers of bioelectricity in comparison to their total RES electricity production are Germany (4.375 ktoe, 8 percent), Italy (1.647 ktoe, 7 percent), and Finland (1.110 ktoe, 19 percent).

Denmark and Finland considerably increased their share of renewables in the gross final consumption of electricity reaching 65 percent and 38 percent respectively, and thereby significantly decreasing their carbon footprint.

Both these countries rely heavily on bioelectricity – in 2019 it provided 20.2 percent and 19.4 percent respectively of the total gross electricity production.

Could reach almost 15 Mtoe by 2030

Member States projections in the report show that bioelectricity should reach nearly 15 Mtoe by 2030 in the EU27.

Projections show that bioelectricity should reach nearly 15 Mtoe by 2030 (graphic courtesy Bioenergy Europe).

According to Bioenergy Europe, the steep rise of bioelectricity during the past decade and the growth during this decade clearly demonstrate that the Member States are relying on bioelectricity to decarbonize their economy and to reach their renewable energy targets. An overall increase of around 1 5 Mtoe is foreseen in the coming decade (+10 percent).

Enabling framework needed

Bioenergy Europe stresses that bioelectricity is a readily available solution – biomass is easily storable and programmable. It can also deliver negative emissions by the combined use of bioelectricity facilities with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), pilot facilities are currently in function in the EU.

Bioenergy Europe believes an enabling legal framework to support bioelectricity and CHP investments should be at the forefront of EU legislation.

The role of flexible renewables to stabilize the power system and secure electricity supply should be recognized and continued research and development support should be granted to technologies and fuels demonstration projects such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).

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