Bioenergy is energy stored in organic matter such as plants and animals that can be regenerated. The energy originates from sunlight that plants absorb in a process known as photosynthesis. In its simplest form, bioenergy consists of burning biomass sources such as wood, charcoal or animal wastes for cooking and heating purposes. This traditional application of bioenergy is still widespread in many countries.
With the help of technology, contemporary bioenergy entails the exploitation of what are known as biomass feedstocks to create solid, liquid and gaseous forms of energy. These biomass feedstocks fall into three main categories; residues and waste, forestry, crops and fast-growing grasses.
Experience a living lab for bioenergy in Denmark
With a long track record in so-called triple helix collaboration, where governmental bodies, companies and research institutions cooperate, Denmark is a pioneer in the use of lignocellulosic biomass to produce energy. Numerous ultra-efficient full-scale biomass plants can be found in Denmark, which is an industry hub and testing ground for modern bioenergy technologies. The use of solid biomass in combined heat and power (CHP) plants to produce electricity and heat is widespread. The power plants are in the process of transitioning away from coal, whereby 2023, they will run solely on wood pellets and chips (woody biomass) and hay. In the agricultural sector, Denmark is spearheading new technologies that convert biogas and liquid biomass into energy. Home to the world’s first plant that produces bioethanol from straw, Denmark is also developing the use of enzymes for bioethanol production.
Danish biomass sources predominantly include straw, wood chips and pellets from both forestry and residuals from industry, the biodegradable part of municipal solid waste (MSW) and, increasingly, biogas from manure from pig and cattle farming.
Biogas, which is produced by anaerobic digestion of manure, slurry and organic waste, is growing rapidly in Denmark, where its production is expected to triple by 2020. It can be used as a fuel or to replace natural gas in central heating and electricity production. . In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating employment in regional areas, the use of biogas enables the recirculation of nutrients from different types of wastes, hence removing the dependency on imported fertilizer. Denmark is actually the global leader as measured according to the share of biogas in the natural gas grid
When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow
Despite being known for its plethora of wind turbines, the application of bioenergy in Denmark is widespread. Bioenergy accounts for more than two-thirds of renewable energy produced and has been a key factor in the country’s declining CO2 emissions. A key advantage of biomass is that it can be stored. This is in contrast to wind and solar power, which are not yet commercially feasible. Therefore, a continued role for bioenergy is envisaged, as it can provide a stable and secure energy supply in an energy system that is based on renewables. Furthermore, using biomass helps reduce emissions related to the transportation of fossil fuels, as locally available biomass such as animal and plant residues can be used.
Need more information?
For further information on bioenergy, please contact Majken Kalhave, Head of Programmes, [email protected]