Spanish Bioenergy Day was celebrated on December 3, coinciding with the beginning of a period during which biomass could satisfy the entire energy demand of the country until the end of the year. Therefore, Spain maintains a figure of 28 days of energy self-sufficiency with biomass alone, much the same as last year. The result is that the country has fallen to 25th position in Europe, behind Greece and Belgium, according to Bioenergy Europe figures.
President of the Spanish Association of Energy Recovery from Biomass (Avebiom), Javier Díaz, expressed dissatisfaction with the figure, because it represents an increase of just 0.9 day, a long way short of the four days achieved by other European countries with similar or less potential. “Spain should have made more progress but the lack of real support by public authorities has slowed progress”.
Díaz has called on the Spanish government to “take urgent measures if it wishes to meet European targets to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are highly contaminating and have a very negative effect on our balance of payments because they are not indigenous resources, while biomass is”.
In Spain, 41% of annual timber growth is availed of, which is well below the European average of 73%. “Wood is accumulating in our forests, which not only reduces the growth potential of the sector but also represents a high risk of fire every summer”.
Díaz pointed out that, apart from wood, “Spain is rich in other resources, such as those from agriculture (pruning cuts from olive and fruit trees), which are practically not used for bioenergy purposes. Instead, these resources are burnt as harvest residues without control”.
According to figures from the Biomasud Plus project, Spain could produce 625,600 tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) from olive tree pruning cuts and a further 290,200 TOE from slips every year. Moreover, it could benefit from 516.000 TOE per annum from sustainably managed scrublands, according to information from the Enerbiocrub project and the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs (MAPAMA).
According the president of Avebiom, these figures underline the “vital role” played by biomass in the transition to renewable energy. “Bioenergy is the most important source of renewable energy in Europe, accounting for 63% of total consumption, ahead of gas and coal, and it is also the number one source of indigenous energy”.
Díaz continued to demand that the government promote “the role of biomass as one of the main engines that will enable us to meet the targets of the forthcoming Climate Change and Energy Transition Act”.
With respect to electricity generation, he pointed out that, “it would be of interest to hold new auctions to maintain the base of manageable electricity generation with this technology as coal-fired thermal power plants, combined cycle plants and nuclear plants close down”.