Forest-based energy

A quarter of Finland’s energy is derived from wood.

Bioenergy is energy derived from biomass. Biomass includes all plants and plant-based material, such as logging residue and wood, wood residue and wood-based waste liquors from the forest industry, community bio waste and cultivated plants. They can be used in energy production as such or processed into pellets, briquettes, or liquid or gaseous fuels, for example.

25.2 per cent of the total energy consumption in Finland was derived from wood-based fuels in 2014. Of that, slightly less than 50 percent was derived from waste liquors from the forest industry, such as black liquor. In the Finnish forest industry, the significance of wood-based fuel is great as well. In 2011 its share of the used fuels was 78 percent.

Forest energy usually means energy from logging residue and stumps; these are called energy wood. Forest energy is only a part of wood-based energy. About four percent of the total consumption of energy came from forest energy in 2014.

Stems, stumps and branches are usually chipped before use and are then called forest chips. The use of forest chips in energy production has increased considerably. Some 90 percent of forest chips are used in heating and power plants, the rest in private houses.

Climate change promotes the use of forest energy

The energy sector causes about 80 percent of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable resources is important, as greenhouse gases are produced especially by the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.

Burning wood is considered as neutral with regard to carbon dioxide emission, as the carbon released into the atmosphere with the burning of wood is considered to be absorbed into new, growing trees. For more information about forests and climate change in, click here.

Both the European Union and Finland want to increase the share of renewables in energy production. The goal of the European Union is that by 2020 one fifth of the energy used in the member states would come from renewable resources. The goal is allocated to member states as binding targets. The target set for Finland is 38 percent.

The targets are ambitious. In 2005, the share of renewables in Finland was 25 percent  As to EU, the share in 2005 was only seven percent. The share of biofuels in transport should be ten percent by 2020 in all member countries.

It is feared that the targets adopted for the use of renewable energy sources will raise the price of wood in Finland and channel wood into burning instead of pulping.

The Finnish forest industry considers it more sensible to refine wood into paper, construction and furniture first, to recycle the products and to burn it only at the last stage of recycling. This would result in wood serving several times before burning it as bioenergy.

On the other hand, the Finnish forest owners consider that they have the right to sell their wood to whoever pays the best price. As to forest owners, they think that it should be possible to sell the wood to energy production, if forest industry is not able to purchase it.

Sources: Finnish Association of Bioenergy Producers, Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

Updated on the 4th of January, 2016.

Graphs related to forest-based energy in