REMIPEG Report: Part 2: Biomass to power is on the rise globally

By Martin Kaltschmitt and Sebastian Janczik, Renewable Energy

The World-Market Status special report – Using a variety of technologies to convert organic matter into fuel, biomass is a widely used renewable energy source in the global market. Nevertheless, the primary markets for biomass are changing, and while transport fuels stabilise, heat and electricity are increasing. 

Biomass (organic matter) can be used to provide solid, gaseous and liquid biofuels (wood logs, pellets, biomethane, bioethanol). The different types of fuels can be used to produce electricity, heat or fuels for transportation purpose. The market for biomass based heat is dominated by small scale units for providing thermal energy for cooking and for space heating from mainly solid wood fuels in developing countries. In industrialized countries, the heat market is determined by small and large scale devices mainly for room heating purpose based on woody solid biofuels; the latter is partly realized in CHP. 

The markets for solid biofuels needed to operate especially small scale ovens are often characterized by informal market structures, particularly in rural areas; this is true in less developed countries as well as in industrialized nations. Therefore, the available data about the biomass-based heat provision is fragmentary and varies considerably. One estimate indicates globally a heat provision of 23.7 EJ (2014) originating from solid biofuels with a fuel energy of 59.3 EJ (2014).