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It also can be used at a larger scale to provide heat for institutional and commercial premises and in industry, where it can provide either low-temperature heat for heating and drying applications or high-temperature process heat.The heat also can be co-generated with electricity via combined heat and power (CHP) systems, and distributed from larger production facilities by district energy systems to provide heating (and in some cases cooling) to residential, commercial and industrial customers.There are many pathways by which biomass feedstocks can be converted into useful renewable energy.A broad range of wastes, residues and crops grown for energy purposes can be used directly as fuels for heating and cooling or for electricity production, or they can be converted into gaseous or liquid fuels for transport or as replacements for petrochemicals.1 (See Figure 6 in GSR 2015.) Many bioenergy technologies and conversion processes are now well-established and fully commercial.2 A further set of conversion processes – in particular for the production of advanced liquid fuels – is maturing rapidly.3In 2016, local and global environmental concerns, rising energy demand and energy security continued to drive increasing production and use of bioenergy.The cement industry also used larger volumes of waste fuels (estimated at 0.5 petajoules (PJ)) in 2016 relative to previous years.19The principal regions for industrial bio-heat are Asia (e.g., bagasse, rice husks, straw and cotton stalks in India) and South America (particularly Brazil, where bioenergy from agricultural and wood residues is used to produce heat in the food, tobacco, and pulp and paper industries, and bioenergy from bagasse is used in the sugar and alcohol industries).20 North America is the next largest user: in Canada, 22% of industrial heat was provided by bioenergy in 2016, mostly in the pulp and paper industry.21 There are signs of reduced use of bioenergy in North America, with stronger growth in Asia, reflecting changes in production patterns in key industry sectors, especially pulp and paper.22In the buildings sector, the United States is the largest consumer of modern biomass for heat.Despite low oil prices, the US market for woody biomass and pellet boilers remained stable in 2016.23Europe is the largest consumer of bio-heat by region.Increased competition from other low-cost renewable sources of electricity acted as a barrier to bio-power production during the year.4 The continuing discussion about the sustainability of some forms of bioenergy has led to regulatory and policy uncertainty in some markets, and has made for a more difficult investment climate.5Bioenergy (in traditionali and modern uses) is the largest contributor to global renewable energy supply.6 Total primary energy supplied from biomass in 2016 was approximately 62.5 exajoules (EJ).7 The supply of biomass for energy has been growing at around 2.5% per year since 2010.8 The bioenergy share in total global primary energy consumption has remained relatively steady since 2005, at around 10.5%, despite a 21% increase in overall global energy demand over the last 10 years.9The contribution of bioenergy to final energy demand for heat in buildings and industry far outweighs its use for electricity and transport combined.10 (Biomass in many forms – as solids, liquids or gases – can be used to produce heat.Solid biomass is burned directly using traditional stoves and more modern appliances to provide heat for cooking and for space and water heating in the residential sector.
Industry, with support from academia and governments, also is making progress in bringing new technologies and fuels to the market.
A very diverse set of industries is involved in delivering, processing and using solid biomass to produce heat and electricity, ranging from the informal supply of traditional biomass, to the locally based supply of smaller-scale heating appliances, to regional and global players involved in large-scale district heating and power generation technology supply and operations.