Wood consumption

The trends in wood consumption mainly depend on the overall economic development. In 2015, and within the EU, 51% of all woody biomass resources were used to produce materials. The rest of woody biomass (222 M m3), which includes the use of industrial residues and post-consumer wood, goes to energy production.1 The largest subsector for material used is solid wood products, followed by pulp and paper. The construction sector is of particular importance for using solid wood products in the form of sawnwood and wood-based panels. This is partly supported by public policies which encourage the use of wood for construction and renovation and the implementation of energy-efficient practices2. At the same time, further impact stems from the packaging and paper industry and overall renewable energy demand.

EU27: indexed values of changes in production of main commodity classes from 2015 to 2020


Wood flow

The cascading use of wood can be quantified through wood flow.

Cascading use means the efficient use of residues and recycled materials for material use to extend total biomass availability within a given system.

For example, when producing sawnwood from roundwood, the by-products are used for energy production or further processed to wood-based panels or wood pulp. The visualisation of the flows of forest biomass from supply to uses, including main products and side streams, helps to illustrate the cascading uses of wood, the competition and synergies as well as the importance of different sub-sectors.

Biomass flows start from primary sources of wood, removals or imports. Wood can either feed wood processing industries for the manufacturing of wood-based products, or be used for energy production.

The central role of the sawnmill industry is clearly visible as the largest industrial user of woody biomass and the main source of secondary wood fibres, used by wood-based panel and pulp industries as well as for energy3.

EU-27 wood flow, M cubic metres solid wood equivalent


Energy from woody biomass

The consumption of wood for bioenergy is increasing as well as the share of wood energy in the total energy consumption.2 Wood energy was the main source of renewable energy in the EU, with almost 60% in 2018.7 Biomaterials and bioenergy systems are tightly linked. In 2015 Approximately 49% of the wood used in EU for bioenergy comes from waste and form industrial side streams, while 37% comes from primary sources. Statistics also report a certain amount of woody biomass used for energy whose origin, primary or secondary, is not known. This “uncategorised” woody biomass for energy, accounts for 14% of total energy uses.

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Roundwood removal and production per forest area in Europe in 2017, m3 ha-1

Sources:1. Camia, A., Giuntoli, J., Jonsson, K., Robert, N., Cazzaniga, N., Jasinevičius, G., Avitabile, V., Grassi, G., Barredo Cano, J.I. and Mubareka, S., The use of woody biomass for energy production in the EU, EUR 30548 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-27867-2 (online),978-92-76-27866-5 (print), doi:10.2760/831621 (online),10.2760/428400 (print), JRC1227192. Joint Wood Energy Enquiry 2017 provided by UNECE3.. Camia A., Robert N., Jonsson R., Pilli R., García-Condado S., López-Lozano R., van der Velde M., Ronzon T., Gurría P., M’Barek R., Tamosiunas S., Fiore G., Araujo R., Hoepffner N., Marelli L., Giuntoli J., (2018). Biomass production, supply, uses and flows in the European Union. First results from an integrated assessment. Publications Office of the European Union. doi:10.2760/5395204. Scarlat, N., Dallemand, J., Taylor, N. and Banja, M., Brief on biomass for energy in the European Union, Sanchez Lopez, J. and Avraamides, M. editor(s), Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2019, ISBN 978-92-79-77235-1 (online),978-92-79-77234-4 (print), doi:10.2760/546943 (online),10.2760/49052 (print), JRC109354.