‘There’s a elementary difficulty with biomass counting in vitality statistics’ – EURACTIV.com


EU member states which have a really excessive share of renewable warmth are typically the nations that burn lots of biomass. And in the event that they burn it inefficiently, it’s even higher for them as a result of they get extra credit score beneath the EU’s renewable vitality directive, says Jan Rosenow.

Jan Rosenow is director of European programmes on the Regulatory Help Mission (RAP), a clear vitality think-tank.

How environment friendly is biomass as a supply of vitality for home heating? Is there a mean determine we will placed on this? And the way does it examine with different sources of heating?

The worst approach to burn biomass is to do it in an open hearth. You’d get an effectivity of perhaps 30% – so 30% of the vitality contained within the biomass could be usable warmth, whereas the opposite 70% simply goes up your chimney.

A very environment friendly biomass boiler might need an effectivity of about 90%. However I don’t know what number of boilers have an effectivity that prime.

Now, in comparison with different renewable heating applied sciences, like warmth pumps or district heating pushed by renewables, you may get nominal efficiencies of 300%, perhaps even 400%. So it’s an enormous distinction.


Sure, in the event you put in a single unit of renewable electrical energy right into a warmth pump, you get about three or 4 models of warmth out of that. Whereas in the event you put in a single unit of biomass, you’ll at all times get lower than one unit of warmth as a result of you’ve gotten the inefficiencies related to burning.

However the way in which it’s being handled beneath the renewable vitality directive is that the extra biomass you burn, the higher it’s on your goal. It actually is unnecessary however that’s the way in which the statistics are being accomplished.

So EU nations which have a really excessive share of renewable warmth are typically the nations that burn lots of biomass. And in the event that they burn it inefficiently, it’s even higher as a result of they get extra credit score.

That is all the way down to the way in which vitality is counted within the statistics, proper? So for biomass, statistics would have a look at major vitality – the theoretical vitality contained in a wooden log, for instance – whereas for different sources of vitality, you’d rely the vitality output, or helpful vitality, appropriate?

Right. A a lot better metric for biomass could be to think about the helpful warmth that you simply’ve really delivered fairly than simply taking a look at how a lot you’ve burned. As a result of in the event you use an open range hearth, the place 70% of the vitality is simply misplaced, that 70% remains to be counted in the direction of renewable heating targets.

And that’s utterly the flawed method round. What issues is the quantity of helpful warmth that customers can really make the most of, which is 30%. However they rely 100%, which is totally counterintuitive. We illustrated that with a graphic in a latest report we revealed.

One other factor we recognized is that, beneath the renewable vitality directive, EU nations can’t rely the renewable electrical energy used to run a warmth pump in the direction of their goal. The European Parliament now needs to incorporate renewable electrical energy used for heating in units which might be greater than 100% environment friendly. That may be first step. Nevertheless it nonetheless doesn’t deal with the basic difficulty of biomass counting in vitality statistics.

Why not use the identical metrics to report within the statistics? As a result of the way in which issues are accomplished now, it means we’re not evaluating apples with apples…

Certainly, we’re not evaluating apples with apples. I believe the explanation for that is that there should not sufficient knowledge factors in the mean time. In the intervening time, it’s merely simpler to rely the quantity of gas burned fairly than making an attempt to recalculate the figures otherwise. However you’d then must have extra details about the applied sciences which might be getting used to burn the biomass.

From all I hear, there has additionally been lots of resistance from nations that use lots of biomass – primarily the Nordic nations and Austria – to make any substantial modifications to the methodology.

As a result of, , it might principally make them look rather a lot worse. And this can be a main stumbling block on this dialogue.

A latest briefing by the Partnership for Coverage Integrity (PFPI) reckons that burning stable biomass accounted for about 40% of vitality counted towards the EU’s renewables goal in 2020. In the meantime, the European Fee’s Joint Analysis Centre (JRC) says biomass represents 60% of all renewable vitality consumption within the EU. That 60% determine is subsequently in all probability exaggerated, proper?

Sure, biomass is counted in major vitality phrases, not helpful vitality. In the event you used helpful vitality excluding vitality waste, it might in all probability be rather a lot much less.

One other report from the Fee’s Joint Analysis Centre, from 2018, discovered that 81% of all renewable heating and cooling got here from biomass. In addition they seemed on the Nationwide Power and Local weather Plans submitted by EU member states for reaching their 2030 local weather targets.

And the projections primarily based on these plans confirmed that roughly about two thirds of renewable heating would nonetheless be biomass-based by 2030. And that’s as a result of it’s handy to make use of biomass because you get so many credit in the direction of your renewable vitality goal.

That’s the opposite factor: EU nations get lots of credit score for doing one thing – wooden burning for heating – that causes environmental points with regard to CO2 emissions and air air pollution. And that, in flip, encourages wooden harvesting for biomass use so EU nations can rely this in the direction of their renewable vitality goal…

Sure, I might agree. And even when biomass was completely sustainable, which we all know it’s not, you’d nonetheless have an incentive to be as inefficient as attainable.

As a result of the extra you utilize, the higher it’s on your goal. And that’s wasteful, for my part. It’s not incentive.

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