Sustainable sourcing of biomass

Historically, the European bioenergy sector has developed to work in synergy with other wood-based industries in order to give value to non-mobilised and/or low-value biomass such as sawdust, mill residue, thinnings, low-quality wood, tops and limbs. Bioenergy generators do not use high-quality timber, because using lumber would make the price of energy uncompetitive for end consumers.

For example, in Belgium during the winter of 2016-2017, the price of 1 m3 of lumber (100-120€/m3) was almost 10 times higher than the price of 1 m3 of wood for energy (6-13€/m3). Bioenergy players are not able to match the prices offered by the timber industry. Based on this price index, using Belgian lumber to produce 1 MWh of electricity would cost between 833-1000€. This would actually be 10 times more than the average price of electricity in Belgium (108-235€/MWh).

EU-28 woody fuel consumption reached approx 107 million m3 in 2017. According to UNECE/FAO, only 3,6% of this total consumption came from woody material imports. This means that more than 95% of EU-28 bioenergy consumption comes from local sourcing, providing added value to regional economies and helping the EU-28 reduce its energy dependency.