Bioenergy: a major contributor towards reaching EU renewable energy targets

Bioenergy is a reliable and renewable energy source that makes up to 61% of the total renewable energy in Europe. Today, the contribution of bioenergy is paramount to achieve European renewable energy targets.

Bioenergy can come from many different sources, including forests, food and animal waste, and sewer sludge. In all cases, its origin is biological and thus continuously reproducible. Biomass requires atmospheric CO2 to grow, with the average carbon content in dry wood accounts for 50% of the total mass. It is for this reason that biomass originating from crops and forests act as atmospheric CO2 removers, a concept also commonly referred as carbon sink.

When biomass is used to generate thermal energy, the amount of carbon released during its combustion is equal to the amount of carbon previously sequestered and used by the plant to grow. This makes biomass an attractive renewable energy source. However, contrary to renewables such as PV and Wind, bioenergy can be used on demand and dispatched at the request of power grid operators, according to market needs independent of any weather conditions.

To address concerns emerged over time about the sustainability of some forms of bioenergy - most notably those on the potential adverse effects of biofuel production and Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) - the European Commission has set in the Renewable Energy Directive II both sustainability criteria for forestry feedstocks as well as GHG criteria for solid and gaseous biomass fuels, further contributing to the development of sustainable bioenergy in Europe.