Current State of and Issues with Wood Biomass Energy
FIT-centric Comparative Analysis of Japan and Germany
Senior Research Fellow Hisashi Kajiyama
- With the maturation of forests planted following WWII, Japan’s timber stockpile became one of the largest in the world. Due to exploding prices of fossil fuels and climate change, biomass presents a huge business opportunity that rural regions cannot pass up.
- A forerunner in biomass usage, Germany’s introduction of FIT in 2000 spurred greater use of biomass in both electricity and heat generation, and by switching from fossil fuels to wood biomass, the regional value-added chain was strengthened and newfound wealth was created in rural areas.
- Since introducing FIT in 2012, Japan, too, has seen the development of plans for many new biomass power generators. However, most of these plans suffer from the following issues: (1) They are large-scale facilities not in keeping with the current state of the forestry industry; (2) they are not CHP plants, but electricity only, and much energy would be wasted; and (3) the plants can deal with neither sawmill residue nor bark.
- These issues are caused in large part by the current FIT program and the biomass power generation technology and regulations in Japan.
- Biomass power plants consume large amounts of “white chips” made of roundwood, which the forestry industry is unable to supply sufficiently. The price of roundwood for biomass chips remains low, meaning that the forestry industry would see little benefit from biomass use.
- The next time the FIT system is revised, it must be made to properly scale biomass power generation, encourage CHP, and ensure thorough usage of lumber residues. Furthermore, regulations must be reformed so that it is easier for small and medium companies to supply power. These are prerequisites to spurring innovation of biomass use and building a robust market.
- The full text is unavailable in English for this report.
The original Japanese full text is here [2565 KB].