* European wood pellet demand to rise to 29 mt in 2020
* Europe to import 66 pct of biomass from abroad
* Global biomass power production to rise 9 pct per year
By Karolin Schaps
LONDON, Jan 11 European demand for wood pellets
to produce electricity is seen rising more than three-fold by
2020, as governments offer subsidies for greener energy sources,
a report said on Friday.
Wood pellets, which can replace dirtier coal in electricity
generation, can be part of a pro-environmental policy given
their burning results in no net carbon emissions compared with
Yet the strong growth in demand for such biomass resources
has also raised concerns about sustainable sourcing and the fact
that their use will likely increase reliance on imports from
countries such as Brazil and Canada.
Several European governments, driven by the need to reach
legally-binding targets to cut carbon emissions, have granted
subsidies for the use in power plants of biomass - mainly wood
pellets but also some crops - most notably Britain, Nordic
countries and the Netherlands.
Biomass is also attractive in a green energy mix because
unlike intermittent renewable energy sources like wind or solar
it provides stable baseload power.
The demand for wood pellets in Europe will reach 29 million
tonnes in 2020, up from 8 million in 2010, Bain analysts
Yet the majority of Europe's biomass needs, around 66
percent or 19 million tonnes, will have to be imported from
outside the continent, mainly from North America, Russia and
Brazil, the analysts said.
"Europe is importing a good proportion of its energy anyway,
the question is to what extent are you putting all your eggs in
one basket?" said Julian Critchlow, head of Bain's European
"The benefit of having a diverse energy policy is you have
different fuel sources coming from different regions. If one is
suffering problems, the other can replace it."
Globally, the amount of electricity generated from biomass
will rise around 9 percent a year through 2020, with the latter
half of the century seeing the strongest growth.
The European Union and Eurasia will account for around a
third of this increase, Bain said, while China and Latin and
North America will represent most of the remainder.
China's demand alone will rise 40 percent annually until
2015 and 21 percent a year after that until 2020, Bain
Most of the biomass used in power plants will continue to
come from wood pellets by the end of this century, but energy
crops will see a significant spurt this decade, with a 42
percent annual supply growth until 2015 forecast.
(Editing by David Holmes)