Study: Trade in biomass promotes bioenergy development in the world

Biomass market for bioenergy development is undergoing rapid change and is becoming increasingly international.

According to a Master of Science Svetlana Proskurina's dissertation, that will undergo a public examination at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), total international trade in biomass for energy purposes almost doubled from 2004 to 2015. 

The dissertation examines how the geographical distribution of biomass resources and a misalignment between supply and demand for biomass has led to the development of international trade in biomass in both solid and liquid forms. Progressively more regions and countries are participating in biomass trade markets, in the form of wood pellets, for instance. In the last five years, wood pellet usage has shown significant growth on international biomass markets, and now accounts for 25% of total biomass trade for energy.

The study's results show that the European Union is currently the leader in biomass utilization and biomass imports. Renewable energy targets will continue to stimulate bioenergy development in the EU. However, potential for development of bioenergy varies greatly in different countries and regions due to their own policies and regulation.

Bioenergy production depends also on geographical terrain, agricultural productivity, industrial structure and other factors. For example, in the Netherlands and Belgium, current use of biomass exceeds local renewable biomass resources. They rely more on biomass trade in order to produce bioenergy.

Finland and Russia in turn are examples of countries that have an abundance of biomass resources. In Russia, only 12% of bioenergy potential is currently utilized. Due to the availability of fossil fuel resources, and for policy and economic reasons, Russia is not very active in bioenergy development. It is hard to predict how much Russia will participate in the European biomass trade in the long term, for example transportation of wood pellets due to many contributing factors including logistical issues. 

Finland is mostly independent in its biomass usage, even if it is developing its bioenergy usage. There has been increased production of Finnish wood pellets to satisfy local demand, but not for international trade. There would be new market prospects for emerging biomass products, such as torrefied biomass, also in developing international biomass trade.

Svetlana Proskurina will defend her doctoral dissertation at LUT on August 31 at 12:00, the Auditorium of the Student Union House. Her dissertation is titled "International trade in biomass for energy production: The local and global context" ("Biomassan kansainvälinen kauppa energian tuottamiseen: Paikallinen ja globaali konteksti")." Professor Jukka Konttinen, Tampere University of Tecnology, Finland and D.Sc. Lauri Sikanen, Natural Resources Institute, Finland will act as opponents. Professor Esa Vakkilainen of LUT will act as custos.