The summer season and the detachment with which it allows us to look forward to the coming autumn, along with the first cold weather, has been an opportunity for Edilkamin&Co., a company specializing in the production of wood and pellet systems, to reflect on the topic of biomass heating in Italy, regulations, environmental impact, and technological innovation. It is clear that the environmental and related issue of the good use of biomass is close to the heart of a company like Edilkamin, which produces stoves, boilers, fireplaces and inserts, wood and pellet. While the consumption of woody biomass for home heating does indeed bring many benefits, it is also important to understand that good use of biomass is compatible with sustainable forest management.
The consumption of woody biomass allows consumers to control more directly the fluctuations in the price of pellets compared to that of other fuels; it represents an alternative and/or complementary source of heating to supplement centralized systems, allowing punctual zone heating, with economic and ecological advantages. In addition, it increases the value of the property, thanks to the improvement of the energy class of the home (APE – Energy Performance Certificate) and allows to take advantage of eco-incentives: from the Conto Termico (national), to the Regional Co-incentive Calls. More and more Italian regions, such as Campania, for example, have allocated funds to cover the cost of replacing obsolete products that include reimbursement by C/C transfer of both the cost of purchase and the cost of installation (in 2023 alone, Lombardy has allocated 12 MIL). Finally, the consumption of woody biomass ensures coverage non-methanized metropolitan areas: biomass heating systems are, in fact, increasingly prevalent in provincial town centers and non-methanized areas of large cities.
“Solid biomass – wood, pellets and wood chips – are Italy’s main renewable energy source for thermal heating, accounting for 32 percent of all renewable energy in our country,” recalls Anna Maggi, an engineer with a specialization in woody biomass combustion, training activities and participation in regulatory activities, “and they play a crucial role in achieving the obligations outlined in the European Energy Transition Plan. This is confirmed by the funding that governments allocate to incentivize the purchase of a biomass product or the replacement of an obsolete plant.”
“Good biomass utilization is compatible with sustainable forest management,” argues Sebastian Brocco, Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Science, Department of Environmental Sciences, Milan State University, with a specialization in forest management and planning. “Forests cover 37 percent of the national surface area and each year they increase their biomass by 37.8Mmc (INFC,2015), and removals correspond to 40 percent of this increase.” What is very important, to maximize climate benefits, is to consciously plan forest withdrawals. “Burning biomass is not climate-neutral in the short term, as it generates a temporary carbon debt,” the researcher continues, “however, it can be an environmentally beneficial benefit if timber harvesting is done following responsible planning.”
The frequency and intensity of harvesting are therefore decisive: it is necessary that in place of the tree harvested another one always grows, a simple expedient that determines the difference between sustainable forest management and deforestation. Evaluation of wood use is also crucial: for energy purposes, the use of waste is preferred. “In Europe,” Sebastian Brocco concludes, “49 percent of energy biomass comes from waste. By using residues, low-impact combustion is possible and has the advantage of reducing the time for forests to repay their carbon debt.”