Bioenergy in EU: Problems and Prospects

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-81-90
A. Zimakov (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. Bioenergy remains the main source of renewable energy in EU. Unlike other renewables, biomass provides solution for decarbonisation of power generation, heating and cooling, and transport. In transportation and heating biomass effectively holds leading role because of lack of other mature and economically feasible low-carbon technologies. In the power generation sector, the role of bioelectricity is rather limited facing competitive wind and solar power. Nevertheless, bioelectricity is crucial for phasing out coal as it allows retaining thermal power plants through their conversion to biomass. Such conversion is especially important for combined heat and power plants (CHPs) as far as it enables decarbonisation of both electricity generation and heating sectors. Thermal bioelectricity can also balance the power grids with a higher share of intermittent renewable power supply. Despite outlooks for a resilient growth, bioenergy in the EU is facing strong criticism regarding CO2 emissions and associated carbon debt. Another issue is connected wtih ensuring sustainability of biofuels what engulfs a broad range of questions ranging from low-carbon production to biodiversity, ecosystem benefits and social impacts. EU climate and energy policy addresses those issues by passing corresponding regulations. Meanwhile some EU countries are facing strong political pressures from environmental groups and are introducing even more strict sustainability criteria for domestic biofuels production and consumption. Further enhancement of sustainability requirements in EU is possible, including those for imported biofuels. In a longer term a decrease of biomass share in EU renewables mix can be expected caused by political pressure on bioenergy as carbon-emitting technology and in a separate development as a consequence of innovations and growth of other competitive non-carbon technologies able to replace biofuels.

Keywords: EU, energy transition, decarbonization, environmental policy, renewables, biofuels, biomass, biogas


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For citation:
Zimakov A. Bioenergy in EU: Problems and Prospects. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 8, pp. 81-90.

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