Bioheat in Europe

Reaching the EU’s overall climate and energy goals will require a collective step up of ambition. Bioenergy offers the EU a reliable vehicle with which to achieve decarbonisation. Readily available, affordable, and efficient solutions such as bioheat must be at the core of this transition.
Inefficient and old heating systems, alongside a high dependency on fossil fuels, have made it one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. The heating sector is responsible for more than 40% of all GHG emissions in Europe. Learning from past mistakes, energy policy should identify an adequate objective to encourage the growth of renewable solutions, and disincentive those of fossil fuels.
Bioheat offers a mature and viable solution to the problem, and should be promoted to ensure a socially fair and cost-effective transition to a climate neutral economy by 2050.
By analyzing the National Energy and Climate Plans of European Member States, the average target for the RES share in H&C sector for 2030 is 40 %. While this indicates a significant increase in comparison with the current share of 19,7 %, without making considerable efforts to increase the share of renewable heat, Member States will fail to meet their climate commitments in the long term. Several Members states have overachieved their 2020 objective for H&C.

Fully untap bioheat potential?

In 2018, a shocking 79 % of energy sources used in H&C continued to come from fossil fuels. While the phasing out of fossil fuels appears to be a daunting task, it is EU and Member States’ responsibility to implement concrete measures that foster the transition. Europe needs to commit to a fast and unprecedented deployment of renewable solutions. Such a move would represent an immense potential for bioheat, which has already proven itself as an effective solution.
The market for biomass has been growing by an average of 3 % every year since 2000. In 2018 bioenergy accounted for 85 % of renewable heat in the total heat consumption. Bioheat is providing decarbonised heat and enabling Member States to meet their long-term climate objectives.

Bioenergy: a reliable and flexible solution for residential heating, derived heat and industrial processes.

In 2018, 49 % of the bioheat in the EU was used by the residential sector, followed by industry (26 %) and district heating (17 %). In the residential sector small and medium size appliances are predominant, their modernisation (when necessary) and correct maintenance and installation are key to the abatement of air emissions. District heating networks are essential to smart sector integration – they increase energy efficiency and give access to new low carbon sources. Yet, in the EU these networks remain largely reliant on fossil fuels, with renewables greening 27 % of their heat production. Furthermore, half of the heat produced from biomass is consumed by that of the residential sector (42.581 ktoe).
District heating and individual biomass heating systems are an important part of the solution. Alongside energy efficiency, they offer an affordable and renewable source of heat. Now, more than ever, long-term strategies to decarbonise the building sector are needed to advance the switch from fossil to renewable solutions.
In 2018, industry represented 16 % of the final energy consumption of heat in the EU, with only 13 % of this from renewables, and almost entirely bioenergy (99 %).