Decarbonisation & Modernisation of the heating system
The EU’s building stock is characterized by old and inherently inefficient heating systems, the negative externalities of which require immediate attention. A coherent energy transition, through the accelerated replacement of old, polluting technologies with modern, highly efficient renewable ones, means ensuring a greener and healthier future.
While around 50 % of PM2.5 emissions are emitted by individual heating systems, the harmfulness of air pollutants is largely dependent on their concentration within a certain area. Urban areas are the most touched by harmful air pollution, most often due to very dense road traffic. Conversely, residential wood combustion occurs mostly in rural and sparsely populated areas, with a much more dispersed concentration: policies to limit emissions should focus on urban areas, the hotspots of air pollution and therefore the biggest threat to our health.
If residential biomass combustion is a contributor to PM emissions in Europe, not all stoves are alike. Old stoves and open fires pollute much more than a modern wood appliance. Old stoves are part of the problem, new stoves are part of the solution. When compared to modern appliances, old stoves and boilers release much larger quantities of dust and other pollutants into the atmosphere while showing a low energetic efficiency (as low as 30 %) due to their incomplete combustion processes.
Today’s technology in contrast is able to drastically boost the efficiency of stoves (up to 95 % for a pellet stove) as well as lower emissions by 95 % compared to an old stove. This leaves room for an impressive potential for improvement of air pollution from the residential biomass sector.