What is bioenergy?
Energy produced from biomass is called bioenergy. It includes heat, electricity and fuel amongst others. The biomass itself, in which the energy is chemically stored, is usually referred to as bioenergy. Altogether, these energy sources are among the renewable energies and make up most of the renewable energies in Germany (over 60%). According to the Federal Statistics Office and AEBIOM around two thirds of EU renewable energy is generated from biomass (bioenergy).
Bioenergy originates from solar energy, which is stored by the plants that mainly form the raw materials of biomass, by means of photosynthesis. Bioenergy is currently primarily sourced from renewable resources: mainly wood as a solid fuel, but also energy crops such as corn or rapeseed, from which ethanol is obtained by alcoholic fermentation or edible oil by oil extraction. This is then turned into biodiesel by esterification. Organic residues and waste from which biogas can be obtained are an increasingly used resource for bioenergy. These include food waste, production residues from the food industry, organic waste and chicken manure, for example.
One major reason that the generation of energy from biomass has been steadily expanded in recent years is that the use of bioenergy reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The sustainable energy policy, which has become much more important in recent years has also led to the production of bioenergy being expanded. In Germany, for example, energy production from biomass is promoted by the state under the Renewable Energies Act (EEG). At European level, the European Parliament and Council’s “Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion and use of energy from renewable sources […]” is significant.
As the cultivation of some renewable raw materials can damage biodiversity and compete against food production for arable land, and because their ecological and economic benefit is limited, some forms of bioenergy are not without controversy.
Status: December 2015
All information subject to change. Errors and omissions excepted.