Scaling up biomass: focus on Southeast Asia



As one of the fastest growing regions in the world in terms of gross domestic product
(GDP), population, and demand for both food and energy, Southeast Asia has a strong
need to decarbonise its economies and modernise its energy systems. In 2018, around 75%
of primary energy demand in the region was met by fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.
Many key economic activities depend on fossil fuels for heat, which makes substitution
with established forms of renewable energy such as hydro, solar or wind challenging.
Bioenergy is the most versatile form of renewable energy derived from forestry and
agricultural products including residues and wastes.
IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050 (IRENA, 2020a)
reported that bioenergy could become the largest energy source in the total energy
mix in Southeast Asia, accounting for over 40% of total primary energy supply (TPES)
in 2050 under its Transforming Energy Scenario (TES), which is consistent with the Paris
Agreement’s goal of restricting global temperature rises to well below 2°C. In this scenario,
the majority of the biomass would be used in the industry (40% of total bioenergy supply)
and transport sectors (37% of total bioenergy supply).
This report investigates the potential for bioenergy to economically replace a portion
of fossil fuel use in the energy markets of five Southeast Asian countries. It outlines
the need for a robust bioenergy transformation plan to reduce dependency on fossil
fuels, strengthen national resilience and enhance energy security. The key barriers and
interventions identified in this study may therefore serve as a guide for the policy actions
required to develop such a plan.



Solid biomass barometer 2019 Eurobserv’er

Solid biomass energy consumption trend swings depend on public policies promoting its use, but they are also highly susceptible to weather conditions. In 2018, it was a mixed bag, with variations across its uses. The demand for heat declined in the European Union, due to a milder winter, while there was a rise in electricity production. All in all, the sector’s primary energy consumption was stable (0.3% lower than in 2017) and is still below the 100 Mtoe threshold (99.3 Mtoe).

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Biomass fired power capacity EU 2019-2020

Europe enters the winter period with more biomass-fired power capacity. In the Netherlands, coal-fired plants are in the commissioning stages of wood pellet co-firing.

  • Engie’s 731MW Rotterdam plant at 10%, Uniper’s 1.1GW Maasvlakte (MPP3) plant at 15% and RWE’s 777MW Eemshaven A and B units at 15%. All are expected to begin commercial co-firing this year
  • RWE’s 630MW Amer 9 plant continues to ramp up to 80% wood pellet co-firing in 2020, having reached 50% this March
  • In the UK, MGT Power’s Teeside 299MW dedicated biomass combined heat and power plant is also due to come online in 2020


In the while, outside Europe, pellet imports in South Korea rose by just 3% on the year to 1.62mn t in the first half of 2019. Japan took 750,000t of wood pellets in the first six months of 2019 — 57% more on the year. Vietnam overtook Canada as the dominant pellet supplier to Japan in the first half of this year, accounting for a 56% share.

Data from Argus Biomass Infographic 2020 markets highlights – Timeline of market movements across Europe, Asia and North America