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Denmark's Bioenergy Day – rapid fossil fuel phase out underway

Bioenergy is Europe's leading renewable energy source. According to Eurostat data and calculations made by the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), bioenergy will be able to supply 11% of the final energy consumption in 2017. An additional 7% comes from the other renewables, while the rest (82%) still comes from fossil fuels. Within this context, for 66 days the EU can run on renewable energies, 41 days of which are supplied by bioenergy—from November 21 to the end of the year.

For Denmark, its Bioenergy Day is November 29, and like Slovakia just over a week after the European average. This may come as a surprise – a Nordic-Baltic country with highly developed district heating, combined heat and power (CHP) plants and a pioneer in waste-to-energy that ranks below the EU average in bioenergy’s share of the country’s final energy consumption.

However, the ranking changes as Denmark sails up to fifth place when it is the share of renewables in energy consumption, 28.6 percent in 2015. Joining its Nordic-Baltic neighbours, Denmark is one of eleven EU Member States to have already achieved it’s 2020 renewable energy target.

Nordic bioenergy tête-à-tête during the recent AEBIOM European Bioenergy Future conference in Brussels, Belgium with Michael Persson, DI Bioenergi (Denmark), Hannes Tuohiniitty, Bioenergia (Finland) and Gustav Melin, Svebio (Sweden).

With a land area of just over 4.24 million hectares (ha), Denmark is a country with comparatively little forest, about 13 percent of the land area. Its lowland undulating topography, maritime location and climate lend itself to agriculture and wind – wind power technology pioneer Vestas has become a global company. That said, bioenergy is the largest renewable. Consumption is higher than production meaning that the balance is imported as wood pellets and woodchips

Fossil phase out in heat and power

Fossil fuels in Danish energy consumption 2015 had a 69 percent share but this several percentage points better than the EU average. Furthermore, Denmark had achieved a significant reduction over the period 1990-2015, from 91 percent to 69 percent.

According to Eurostat, the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption decreased over the period 1990-2015 in every EU Member State. The decrease was most notably in Denmark (from 91% In 1990 to 69% in 2015) and Latvia (from 83% to 61%), illustration courtesy Eurostat.

According to Eurostat, the share of fossil fuels in energy consumption decreased over the period 1990-2015 in every EU Member State. The decrease was most notably in Denmark, from 91% in 1990 to 69% in 2015 (illustration courtesy Eurostat).

This is set to drop further and at a rapid pace in the heat and power sector. Denmark’s energy utility major Ørsted (formerly called DONG Energy – Danish Oil & Natural Gas) has since 2015 managed to convert several coal-fired energy generation assets to wood pellets and woodchips.

Earlier this year the company decided to phase out coal by 2023 in all its remaining facilities and is getting involved in biomethane. Other companies have and/or are following suit.

The Foulum biogas plant is a research facility at Aarhus University and includes a complete 1.5 tonne per hour cereal straw briquetting line from C. F. Nielsen / Kinetic Biofuel. Research has shown that adding a small percentage pre-treated straw in the form of briquettes can significantly increase the yield of manure-based biogas plants.

In addition, according to Grøn Gas Danmark, the country has the potential to make a 100 percent green transition of the gas grid by 2035 – a rapid transition, given that the first biogas-to-grid installation was in 2014 and biomethane makes up about 10 percent of the gas grid.

This, they say, is achievable by using a combination of available feedstocks in agriculture such as manure and straw, food processing industries, biowaste and wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), biogas plant technology efficiencies, methanisation including power-to-gas – the latter as a means of storing excess power in the gas grid.

About European Bioenergy Day

The European Bioenergy Day campaign is powered by the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM) and relayed across Europe by both national and international partners supporting the belief that bioenergy is more than a renewable energy source, but a reliable path that will lead Europe to achieve its renewable energy transition in the shortest span of time.

The campaign will last 66 days, starting from November 21 through the end of the year. This is a symbolic date on which the European Bioenergy Day was celebrated by organizing the European Bioenergy Future Conference, that was held in Brussels, Belgium on that date.

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