Biomass is the most dominant source of renewable energy in Denmark. In the 1980s and 1990s the use of solid biomass was largely made up by straw, biodegradable waste and fire wood, but since 2000 the use of wood pellets and wood chips have increased significantly.
Up to 2000, waste, straw and firewood were the primary renewable fuel. In the period that followed, the use of wood pellets and wood chips in particular increased. Since 2010, wood pellets have been dominant in the consumption of solid biomass for energy purposes. Wood pellets are used in existing coal plants for co-firing (as support fuel) or in coal plants that have been converted to fire with wood pellets as the main fuel instead of coal.
Figure 1 illustrates the use of renewable energy in Denmark in 2018. Bioenergy accounts for 64 % of the consumption of renewable energy and wood biomass alone accounts for 48%.
Figure 1: Consumption of renewable energy in Denmark in 2018, by type. Source: Energy Statistics 2018
More than half of the woody biomass is imported. This mainly consists of wood pellets originating from the Baltic countries (Estonia and Latvia), the US and Russia as well as other European countries. Figure 2 illustrates the development in the consumption of imported and domestic biomass in Denmark 1990-2018 (PJ).
Figure 2: Development in biomass consumption in Denmark 1990-2018 (PJ). Note the uneven time intervals on the X-axis. Source: Energy Statistics 2018
Future use of biomass for heat and electricity
Every year the Danish Energy Agency makes future projections on the use of solid biomass and other types of renewable energy in The Energy and Climate Outlook. The future scenarios are conservative and based on “frozen policy” assumptions.
Discussions on the timing of GHG savings as well as other environmental risks from the use of biomass for energy have enhanced the awareness of the range of issues related to sustainability.
In May 2020, the Danish Energy Agency published an analysis on the Danish consumption of biomass and related climate and sustainability issues.
The EU directive on renewable Energy from 2018 (REDII) require sustainability criteria to be implemented in law before July 2021.
In 2020 a political agreement was reached on new Danish sustainability criteria for woody biomass, which will also implement the REDII. Read the political agreement (in Danish)