Heating and cooling represents around 50% of the EU-28’s total energy consumption. The share of renewable energy sources in the heating and cooling sector (18,59%) increased slightly in 2015, with bioenergy representing 89% of the total contribution.
Four bio-heating pathways are relevant:
Using wood chips in boilers for larger heating systems such as multi-family houses is widespread conversion route — it requires adequate emission controls to reduce local nitrogen oxide.
Small-scale decentralised biomass heating is included in the shape of advanced automated pellet systems.
District heating can supply both large areas of densely-populated buildings, and smaller-scale
neighbourhoods or larger building complexes using packaged co-generation. District heating is a very efficient system with low GHG emissions, in particular if operated on residues and wastes.
Biogas/biomethane is not expected to play a prominent role due to its low overall resource efficiency, but can provide heat indirectly from cogenerated electricity (EEA, 2013).
In bioheat sector, the residential segment leads with about half of the bioheat consumption (51%). This sector is quite heterogeneous. All new installations put on the market today have to comply with the EU Ecodesign legislation, setting minimum emissions and energy efficiency requirements. However, a challenge remains in the existing stock of old installations like open fire places which need to be replaced in order to improve air emissions and energy efficiency. The residential sector is the predominant sector for bioheat consumption in all the countries except Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Slovakia where the share is lower than 40%. Industrial and derived heat sectors follow in the ranking of bioheat generators respectively with 26% and 15%. The consumption of bioheat in the industry sector has a high importance in countries such as Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and Slovakia. The countries with the biggest share of bioheat consumption through district heating are Denmark, Lithuania and Sweden with more than 30%. On the contrary, bioheat district heating are few in Ireland and Mediterranean countries like Spain, Greece and Portugal.
Solid biomass is by far (91%) the first source of fuel used for bioheat, most of it being woody biomass. Both for environmental and economic reasons, this is mostly sourced from by-products of forest management operations and the wood industry,such as sawmills. Alternative feedstocks, such as ligno-cellulosic energy crops can complement demand while providing additional benefits (soil erosion prevention, flood protection etc..). The remaining 9% is sourced from municipal waste and biogas generation, accounting for 8% combined.
Source: AEBIOM Statistical report 2017.
EEA, 2013. EU bioenergy potential from a resource-efficiency perspective.