Although the installation of biomass equipment for thermal use and biomass stoves and boilers set a record in terms of number of units installed and grew to over 1000 MW, it did not reach 1300 MW installed power in 2015.
Generally speaking, according to the Spanish Biomass Observatory, the annual installed capacity with technical biomass equipment is down 23% on 2015, although it remains constant at 1020.6 MW. The number of units installed in 2016 stands at 38,851, 18% up on the figure for 2015.
This shows that Spanish society is still in need of much more information. The biomass sector is gradually colonising the heating sector in Spain, but at a slower pace than predicted a few years ago. Overall, the Biomass Observatory indicates that, at the beginning of this year there were 198,887 high-performance biomass units operating in Spain, totalling an installed capacity of 8297.6 MW.
This upward trend is not only the case in Spain but across Europe, where 16% of heating now uses biomass. This is a proven fact: the use of biomass for energy boosts the internal and local economy, revitalizes rural areas, enables better forest management and creates stable, local employment in our regions. It helps reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, provides technological leadership, reduces the cost to end consumers and offers an efficient, cheaper alternative to any other fuel. Indeed, we need to be aware of the current importance of biomass: it already accounts for 0.34% of Spain's GDP, i.e. 3.7 billion euros.
The energy generated with biomass in Spain means we no longer have to import the equivalent of more than 10 million barrels of oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels such as diesel or natural gas.
2016 sets a new record in the sale of pellet stoves while fewer biomass boilers are being installed.
According to figures released by Spain's Biomass Observatory, 35,815 pellet stoves were installed in Spain last year, 22% more than the previous year. According to the figures, many brands exceed 1000 units and several of them sell over 5000 units per year. The marketing trend has veered towards the DIY-department-store channel and continues to rise with units that have less and less power but more and more technology: the average power of stoves sold in 2016 was 11.3 kW.
The installation of boilers of below 50 kW was down 16% on 2015 figures. According to the figures, high-end and import sales were lower and the average installed power was 34.4 kW.
The installation of biomass boilers of 50 kW or more, i.e. industrial and collective installations, fell by 15% in number and represent the group of biomass installations with the greatest reduction in installed power. The main causes include a number of events that have discouraged changing efficient boilers, i.e. months of political instability, low heating diesel prices at the beginning of the year and a relatively mild winter with lower thermal requirements. Now, well into the first half of 2017, we are observing a change in the trend mainly because heating diesel prices last winter rose by more than 50% in comparison with the previous year.