The Economic Viability of Wood Energy Conversion Technologies in Germany

  • Matthias Edel
  • Daniela Thraen


Considering the ambitious goals to increase the share of renewable energies in the heat, power and transport sector, wood energy plays an important role in Germany´s energy transition. However, various wood market outlooks and scenarios describe the limitations of wood mobilization in Germany. This could result in rising wood prices, as well as in higher competition among wood fuel consumers. In that context, this paper deals with the question of which wood energy conversion pathways are most competitive in Germany. With regard to the feedstock prices, the competitiveness of various wood fuel conversion pathways is assessed. Applying the concept of ceiling prices, combined heat and power plants are relatively vulnerable to increasing wood prices. The ceiling prices of synthetic biofuels already reach high levels. However, their market entry depends on many other aspects. If fossil fuel prices continue to rise, heat provision from woody biomass remains a very attractive option in Germany. But different types of wood fractions are suitable as wood fuels, and an analysis of wood fuel qualities and prices provides more insights in the economic viability of wood energy pathways and their possible role in Germany´s energy transition. Keywords: bioenergy, competition, wood demand, wood supply, ceiling price. Received 4 September 2011, Revised 12 June 2012, Accepted 3 July 2012.