Faced with climate change issues, the states, and more particularly European Union member states, have mobilized themselves through joint and individual initiatives to act now against the current climate and ecology crisis by encouraging the development of green energies.
The 2009 Copenhagen agreement ratified at planetary level the fight against climate change, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the development of more environmentally-friendly sources of energy generation.
In 2008, the European Union climate-energy package defined the ambitious targets of its strategy to fight climate change for 2020, with the "3x20" or "20-20-20": a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% increase in energy efficiency and 20% of renewable energies. Each of the 27 Member States is obliged to commit to legally binding goals for the development of renewable energies and the reduction of their energy consumption in their National Action Plan in favour of renewable energies, which also details the means.
In France, from 2007, the Grenelle de l'environnement (the French environmental think tank and round table) brought together government representatives and representatives from society to formulate a policy for sustainable development and development of green non-carbon energies, which were transposed into five major "Grenelle laws" passed in 2008 and 2010. France has undertaken to attain the target of 23% of renewable energy in its energy mix by 2020.
The biomass is currently the prime source of renewable energy used in Europe: it represents two thirds of heat generation or renewable electricity. Its many environmental and technical advantages are widely recognized. Its impact on the climate is neutral because the CO2 released into the atmosphere during combustion is recycled by trees and other plants as they grow. Since the combustion technologies in use are well-tried, the biomass can provide energy generation with a reliable base load.
The biomass is composed of organic matter, primarily plant matter, used for energy generation, in particular as fuel in biomass recovery plants. The biomass is the oldest and most widespread source of energy used by man, in a variety of forms: firewood, straw, wood pellets, branch chips, bagasse, fodder, algae,…
Within the framework of the European Union directive promoting the use energy from renewable sources and the 20-20-20 target, the scenarios considered place biomass as the main driving force of growth in renewable energies, with an expected increase of 850 TWh in the energy produced from biomass by 2020, namely more than double the production of 2007.
In France, the Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) has since 2004 issued four request for proposals on projects for biomass recovery plants, with guaranteed repurchase of the energy produced. Three additional invitations for bids, each for 200 MW, will be issued between 2011 and 2013.
Applications using biomass for energy generation take many forms, from small individual boiler rooms to industrial energy generation facilities and dedicated plants and the co-combustion of biomass in conventional thermal power plants. They reduce the consumption of fossil energy generally and coal in particular.