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Bioelectricity has the literal ‘Power’ to decarbonise Europe’s Remaining Electricity Demand by 2050

Date

19 May 2021

Sections

Energy

Reaching the target of a CO2 reduction of at least 55% by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 requires the mobilisation of the entire renewable energy sector. Biopower plants can be operated to offset fluctuations in power system, ensuring stability of the electricity grid and helping with further integration of variable renewables.

On May 11th Bioenergy Europe released the first chapter of its 2021 Statistical Report, focussing on the power of bioelectricity, and showing once again that bioenergy is crucial in achieving the EU climate ambitions and the green transition.

Bioenergy Europe’s Annual Statistical Reports provides insights on the developments of the European bioenergy market to support industry leaders, decision-makers, investors, and all bioenergy professionals to understand the status of bioenergy in Europe. With more than 150 graphs and figures, readers can get an in-depth overview of the bioenergy sector in Europe.

The “Bioelectricity” report reveals that two thirds of the electricity generation in the EU is still provided by non-renewable sources, of which 38 % is provided by carbon intensive fossil fuels. As a result, the carbon intensity of the electricity in the EU remains significant, with huge variations amongst Member States.

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% of the total electricity in the EU27 and 15,4% of the total renewable electricity.

Efficiency of the energy generation process is key. In 2019, 72% 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.

Member States projections in the report show that bioelectricity should reach nearly 15 Mtoe by 2030 in the EU27. The steep rise of bioelectricity during the past decade and the growth during this decade clearly demonstrate that 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%).

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, pilot facilities are currently in function in the EU.

The prevalence of bioelectricity varies amongst Member States. The largest producers of bioelectricity in comparison to their total RES electricity production are Germany (4.375 ktoe, 8%), Italy (1.647 ktoe, 7%) and Finland (1.110 ktoe, 19%). Denmark and Finland considerably increased their share of renewables in the gross final consumption of electricity reaching respectively 65% and 38%, and thereby significantly decreasing their carbon footprint. Both these countries rely heavily on bioelectricity – in 2019 it provided respectively 20,2% and 19,4% of the total gross electricity production.

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 stabilise the power system and secure electricity supply should be recognised and continued research and development support should be granted to technologies and fuels demonstration projects such as BECCs.

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