1.1 Definition and scope of study
The qualification of wood energy arises when wood is used for energy purposes, to produce heat, electricity or second-generation biofuels. Wood energy can be used as primary fuel but it can also be transformed industrially into by-products (solid, liquid or gaseous) that are also combustible.
Wood energy represents the the leading source of renewable energy in France (almost 40% of the total). However, despite its promising position within the renewable energy sector, its popularity is still not yet established within the overall energy sector of France. In fact, of the 245 toe (tonne of oil equivalent) of energy consumed in France in 2019, less than 4% came from wood energy.
Forest cover in France is extremely important for the wood energy in France, given how this is where the primary source of the product comes from. In fact, the forest covers 28% of the territory in metropolitan France (public and privately owned) and is growing by 75,000 hectares per year.
In terms of variations of wood energy sources, there are four main ones:
- Woold logs (firewood): Comes from raw roundwood and little processing is needed
- Wood pellets: Produced by compressing roundwood and typically comes from hardwood, although it may be a mix between hardwood and softwood
- Woodchips: Made from shredded wood
- Wood charcoal: Produced by heating the wood and removing all the water and oxygen from it
In this report, all of the sources will be mentioned, however, the scope will primarily cover wood logs (firewood) and wood pellets, given how they are the most significant in the French market.
The residential sector is by far the sector that consumes the most wood energy at 70% of the total consumption and therefore it is also the sector that contributes the most to the overall spending on this source of energy. On top of residential consumption, the main reason for consumption of wood energy is for heating purposes (over 90% of total wood energy consumption).
Beyond the residential heating which remains the main market outlet, the use of wood energy is also expanding industrial and district heating which have been progressing very rapidly since 2010.
Finally, the market for wood energy in France is extremely segmented, given how its operations are extremely dependant on local and regional operations.
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The heat pump market - France
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