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Estonia's Bioenergy Day – bioenergy accounts for 27% of nation's final energy consumption

Bioenergy is Europe’s leading renewable energy source. According to Eurostat data and calculations by the European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), bioenergy will account for 11% of the final energy consumption in the EU-28 this year. Other renewable energy sources, like hydropower, wind, solar and geothermal, stand for another 7%. But still, non-renewable energy makes up 82% of the EU’s energy use.

Data source Eurostat, AEBIOM’s calculations (graphic courtesy AEBIOM).

For the EU as a whole, this means that all energy use from November 21 until the end of the year will come from bioenergy, and therefore to mark the occasion AEBIOM will celebrate the European Bioenergy Day on November 21.

Bioenergy – a renewable leader often overlooked

For Estonia, its Bioenergy Day occurs on September 23, which is fourth of all the EU member states as Estonia’s bioenergy share in the final energy consumption is 27%. The total use of renewable energy in Estonia was almost 29% in 2015, compared to 18% in the EU as a whole. The government’s goal is to reach 25% renewables in gross final energy consumption by 2020.

Other EU member states with high shares of bioenergy are Sweden (36%)Finland (33%), Latvia (31%), Denmark (25%), Lithuania (22%), and Austria and Romania (both 20%).

Bioenergy is primarily utilized in Estonia for heat and power generation and there is a significant export of biomass fuels, in particular, wood pellets. In 2015, the share of renewables in transport was only 0.4%, below the EU average of 6.7%.

Mixed hardwood and softwood pulpwood at a state-of-the-art pellet mill logyard in southern Estonia. Given the long distance to the nearest pulp mill, pellet production offers an economic and environmentally sound pulpwood use option. According to Eesti Statistika, around 1.2 million tonnes of pellets were produced in 2016 of which 90% was exported.

According to Eesti Statistika, forests covered 2.3 million hectares (ha) just over half (51.0%) of Estonia’s land territory 2016 and the total growing stock was 476 million cubic metres (m3) placing Estonia sixth in Europe after Finland, Sweden, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Latvia in accordance with UN FAO data. The most common species are pine (32.6%), birch (30.0%), spruce (17.4%) and grey alder (9.2%).

Around 10.7 million m3 of wood was felled in 2014, 10.4 million m3 in 2015 and 11.3 million m3 in 2016. As the share of mature stands in Estonian forests is relatively large, from forest management perspective, the felling volumes could be even higher.

The “Estonian Forestry Development Program until 2010” specified 13.1 million m³ as the optimum forest harvesting level. For this decade, 12–15 million m³ per year is deemed the optimum sustainable harvesting level and in 2016, an active public discussion started about the sustainable volume of the use of forest resources.

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.

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