The wood energy sector is back in force
In a tense energy context, wood is becoming fashionable again and the sector is developing on a technical level. The challenge now is to mobilize the resource to ensure a sustainable and sufficient supply to meet the demand.
The wood energy sector includes all uses of wood to produce heat, electricity or both simultaneously in the case of cogeneration. Alongside biogas and biofuels, the wood energy sector belongs to renewable energies based on the use of biomass. It makes use of wood deposits from forest maintenance, scrap from the forest industry and to a lesser extent wood from waste (building waste).
In France, the energy produced from wood represented, in 2004, 9,4 Mtep is 50% of the production of renewable energies (electrical and thermal combined) and 4% of the French energy needs. France owes its place as the leading European producer of wood energy mainly through home heating which consumes 79,5% (about 7,4 Mtep). Indeed in the individual housing, more than 5 millions of households are equipped with a wood heating (45% of inserts and closed hearths, 27% of open hearths, 13% of stove, 9% of stoves and 6 % of individual boilers).
Wood consumption in the industrial sector is of the order of 1,6 Mtep / year (ie 18,2% of the total). It is mainly made by the wood, paperboard and panel industry, which uses their own by-products (bark, sawdust, fall) to cover their needs for heat and electricity. It is growing slightly, in particular thanks to the first and second wood processing industries. The industrial wood boiler park is estimated at 1000 units for a power of 2,5 GW.
If the professional use of wood energy in agriculture remains stable (0,5%) for the heating of greenhouses mainly, the valuation in the collective and tertiary sectors tends to develop but currently represents only 1,8% of consumption total wood energy. Since 2000, the collective wood-fired boiler fleet has grown steadily by more than 13% per year on average. At the end of 2004, it included 641 installations, ie 430 MW of thermal power installed in hospitals, schools and housing. In Nangis in Seine-et-Marne, for example, the premises of a center specializing in sorting packaging will benefit from this technique, while in Aubervilliers in Seine-Saint-Denis, a wood-fired boiler will provide half the energy needs of a complex of seven buildings with 836 dwellings.
Despite this relatively large but discreet use, the wood-energy sector is not optimized and France still has significant wood potential. A large part of the wood residues is not yet recovered and the already existing installations do not perform optimally compared to the technologies available today. This is why ADEME wanted to encourage the greater and more efficient use of wood as an energy resource. In 1994, a first plan called Wood-energy and local development managed by ADEME and associating 13 French regions was launched to support this sector. Endowed with increased financial resources, a second Wood Energy program came into effect in 2000 in order to accelerate the renewal towards high-efficiency wood heating appliances and to increase the size of the installed base. A large section is dedicated to the development of wood energy in the industrial, collective and tertiary sectors with the objective of installing 1000 boilers and producing an additional 0,3 Mtoe. With the support of tax credits, many projects have seen the light of day. Thus, in Besançon, a wood boiler meeting 65% of the heat needs of a city of 350 dwellings and representing an investment of around € 350 was subsidized up to 000% by ADEME Franche-Comté and 20% by the Doubs general council.