Biomass from forests

Policies and market forces are leading to growth in use of wood and other cellulosic biomass as feedstocks for renewable energy and materials. The use of forest biomass as a fuel for electrical power generation is increasing, in regions with increased feedstock availability, in light of renewable electricity standards and climate change-related policy implementation. Use of wood pellets and other forest-derived biomass for energy in industrial and residential applications has been increasing in Western Europe for several years, and has begun to expand in North America as well. 

In 2015, the total EU-28 forest area amounted to 161 Mha (Forest Europe, 2015), covering 38% of the land. Of this area, 134 Mha (84%) are considered as forests available for wood supply (FAWS).   In 2015, EU-28 forest reached 26 billion m³, meaning that forest increased 34% over the last quarter of a century (aebiom, 2017).

In 2013, the total above ground biomass (AGB) of EU-28 forests is estimated to be 18 600 Mt dry weight. Considering only FAWS, the total AGB is 16 000 Mt of which 10 900 Mt (68%) is stemwood, the remaining 5 100 Mt (32%) being OWC. Countries in Central-West Europe account for a large share of AGB (36% of EU-28), while the region of North Europe comes second. Since 2000, the stock of AGB in EU-28 forest has been increasing by 223 Mt per year on average, which corresponds to an annual rate of increase of 1.3% (Camia et al., 2018).

On EU level, reported data indicate that energy accounts for nearly half (48 %) of the total use of woody biomass, the remaining 52% being material uses. Energy use of wood has been increasing, not the least wood pellets consumption.