Some 500,000 people already work in the bioenergy generation sector in the EU28, 44% of jobs in renewables, positioning biomass as the renewable energy that creates the most employment, according to the 2016 Statistical Report published by the AEBIOM, the European Biomass Association, that will be presented in Madrid on 4 November, as part of the programme of activities organised to mark the arrival in the Spanish capital of the mobile informative exhibition Biomass in your Home, organised by AVEBIOM, the Spanish Biomass Association and IDAE, the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving.
The 2016 Statistical Report reveals that Europe possesses the necessary natural resources for the sustainable development of bioenergy. Contrary to popular belief, Europe’s woodlands are growing at a constant pace of 322,800 hectares per year (almost the equivalent to one football pitch every minute).
However, the use of the biomass remains modest compared to the consumption of fossil fuels. While the energy dependence of China and the USA is under 20%, the EU imports 53% of its energy; and Spain, 73%.
According to the president of AEBIOM, Gustav Melin, it is often overlooked that the heating and cooling sector accounts for half of the EU-28’s energy consumption, which is currently dominated by fossil fuels (82%). The installation of new wood pellet stoves as a fuel in the home plus efficient wood chip boilers in schools, hotels and shops, could substantially reduce the level of energy independence of the EU-28.
Almost 7,300 MWt installed in Spain
In Spain, primary energy production from biomass for thermal and electric use was 4,954 ktoe in 2014 (latest official figures available). Currently, Spain has over 160,000 thermal biomass installations in operation, amounting to around 7,275 MWt installed which represents an annual reduction of 3,224,000 tonnes of CO2.
According to the president of AVEBIOM, Javier Díaz González, “with an annual growth of 1,000 MWt installed, by 2020, there would be a reduction of 5.5 million tonnes of CO2, representing a contribution to the national targets for CO2 emissions reduction in the diffuse sectors of 2.5%”.
According to AVEBIOM figures, Spain makes use of 35% of the annual growth in the woodland, while the European average increases that percentage to 61%. “An increase in consumption of 12 million cubic metres a year would mean: 12,000 direct jobs in the forestry sector, the reduction in the purchase of 15 million of barrels of petroleum and the emission of nine million of tonnes of CO2.”