Mixed performance for EU biomass market
EurObserv'ER published figures this week comparing the sectors of solid biomass, biogas, and municipal waste from 2010 to 2011. While the first sector shrank, the latter two grew, with biogas increasing by an impressive 18.2 percent.
EurObserv'ER, a project supported by the European Commissionn, French environmental and energy agency Ademe, and Caisse des Depots publishes technology barometers focusing on renewables within EU member states. This week, it compared the performance of three bioenergy sectors from 2010 to 2011 (see the press release in English).
The solid biomass market shrank within the EU by 2.9 percent, which the analysts attribute to an "exceptionally mild" winter of 2011; the cold spell came in February 2012. Demand for firewood and solid biomass fuel was therefore low. It is apparently the first time since 1990 that demand for solid biomass dropped at all, aside from a downturn in 1999. Overall, from 1990 to 2010 demand for solid biomass has more than doubled. Of the three market segments investigated, this one is also by far the largest.
The smallest segment is municipal waste, and it grew by 2.6 percent in 2011 the year-over-year. But growth in this sector is not necessarily good. The analysts point out that waste-to-energy should be based on landfills and not be preferred to waste prevention and recycling.
The biogas sector posted the greatest growth at 18.2 percent. The analysts say that the main reason for this increase is a change in the way figures are tallied for small cogeneration units in Germany, which makes up half of European biogas production. Tellingly, this sector of distributed energy makes up "the bulk of Germany's primary energy" from biogas, so the "methodology changeamounts to a quantum leap." (Craig Morris)