Romania has the great opportunity to ensure the energy security of its citizens, while accelerating the decarbonation of the energy sector, reducing costs, and eliminating fossil fuels. The Romanian Association of the Wood Industry – Prolemn invites the authorities to start as soon as possible a programme to support the installation of boilers using biomass or pellets for residential heating, with enormous economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The opportunity is here and now

Although wood biomass – a green and renewable resource – is widely available locally in Romania, and the industrial sector has the full capacity to process this resource for the energy sector, the lack of policies to support residential or community installations using wood products such as pellets keeps large parts of the population in energetic poverty. Authorities continue to support fossil fuel projects, they support coal-fired heat plants in purchasing carbon credits thus wasting resources for investment or promise utopian developments of the natural gas network or hydrogen installations, instead of seeing the opportunities at hand.

The energy potential of woody and agricultural biomass in Romania is greater than the cumulative potential of hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal resources, according to official estimates reported in PNAER. In the energy mix of national consumption for the production of thermal energy, firewood and other types of biomass occupy a fraction as large as 42%, the rest being divided between electricity (11%) and fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, LPG, etc.).

But this huge potential is used far below its capacity.

3.5 million households use 12-14 million tons of firewood per year in traditional stoves with low energy yields. At the same time, during a global energy crisis, Romania produces 600,000 t of pellets, of which we consume only 200,000 t, the remaining 400,000 t we export.

Why can’t we use this in-house production? Why not ensure the comfort of citizens from our own production?

When talking about energy security and energy efficiency, we miss the fact that in the energy consumption of a household thermal energy is 3-4 times more than electricity. For electricity there are action plans, investments in nuclear, solar, wind energy, and large gas plants for a transition period. We have no alternatives for thermal energy. The expansion of gas networks is done very slowly and at enormous costs. Green hydrogen is a medium-to-long-term story. Energy poverty means for households the lack of alternatives for thermal energy, for heating. We have 3.5 million households that heat with firewood, with very low energy yields using the wood resource. Large cities in Romania are heated with the help of centralized coal-based systems, many on the verge of collapse due to the costs of carbon certificates. And during this time, Romania exports a very valuable green energy: from a national production of 600,000 tons of pellets, 400,000 tons are exported. Considering the cost of pellets of 300 Euro/ton, a MWh of thermal energy from pellets costs a maximum of 65 Euro/MWh. If we consider pellets obtained from agricultural biomass, available in abundance in Romania, this cost drops by half! And the valuable wood resource remains available for industry, creating added value, development and a green economy based on renewable resources. For comparison, the production cost for one thermal MWh of ELCEN, for Bucharest, is approximately 100 Euro/MWh, and adding the distribution costs it reaches 200 Euro/MWh. Biomass is the readily available solution based on a green, local resource for decarbonisation, cost reduction and energy security. A national programme to install pellet boilers for residential heating has a cost/benefit ratio 4-5 times higher than programmes to install photovoltaic panels.

Catalin Tobescu

President, Prolemn

Europe is turning to biomass for heating

Europe understands that pellet or biomass installations are a cheap, efficient, and fast way to provide thermal comfort to the population, using a renewable and CO2-neutral resource, widely available locally and without exposure to geopolitical turmoil that threatens the energy security of the continent.

Thus, many European countries run national support programmes for the installation of residential heating installations on biomass or pellets, and the support offered can be consistent – on average, states offer 4-5,000 Euros for each project, depending on the country, but the support can reach as much as 7,500 Euros (Austria) or even 15,000 Euros (Latvia).

Maximum support granted by states for the installation of pellet plants


7,500 Euro (+ regional aid)


6,000 euros


3,000 euros


5,000 euros


5,000 Euros (up to 15,000 Euros with additional bonuses)


2,500 Euro (+ power bonus)


4,000 euros


1,500 euros


5,000 euros



Source: https://www.enplus-pellets.eu/en-in/news-events/latest-news/788-national-support-schemes-that-will-help-you-switch-to-pellet-appliance .html

In Romania, the installation of residential heaters is a sub-chapter of a home energy efficiency program, difficult to access and insufficiently promoted. The population does not know what support they can access and under what conditions, and the very possibility of installing a modern pellet-based boiler is unknown to most potential beneficiaries.

What can we do with a billion Euros: investments in energy produced from biomass have the highest ROI

For solar energy, through the “Green Home Solar” programme, a support of 20,000 lei (the equivalent of approximately 4,000 Euros) is granted for a capacity based on 3 kWh solar panels. Solar panels only provide electricity when the sun is shining. In the usual calculations, 1000 hours/year are considered. So with an investment of 4,000 Euros we get 3 MWh of electricity/year.

With the same 4,000 Euros in a pellet heater installation program, we can support a boiler with a power of at least 20 kWh, which works permanently in the cold season and can also provide hot water. This could operate for a minimum of 4,000 hours/year, with an average annual generated power of at least 20 MWh/year for a household. The contribution to energy security is 6-7 times higher with the same investment, in favour of pellet plants.

The cost-reduction benefits for the household are much greater by supporting the installation of pellet boilers. And at the same time, we more than double the energy efficiency of using the wood resource, from 30% in traditional stoves to 90% in pellets.

Comparative cost of expanding the gas network/ solar panels/ pellet plants:

  • with 1 billion Euros we can expand the gas network to connect 200,000 homes. The actual connection costs borne by households double this sum. Public cost: 5,000 Euros/household, for a resource with uncertain availability (natural gas), a fossil fuel currently considered “transitional” for the decarbonization objectives of the European Union, but most likely replaced soon.
  • with 5,000 Euro/household we can install solar panels with a power of 3 kWh and a production of solar electricity of 3 MWh/year, using a resource with unpredictable availability and requiring other uncertain investments for individual storage capacities that can take the energy produced in peak times.
  • with 5,000 Euro/household, we can install a pellet boiler. Thermal energy production: minimum 20 MWh/year, with a renewable resource, neutral in terms of CO2 emissions, available locally on a large scale in Romania.


Solar panels

Gas boiler

Pellet boiler


4,000 Euros/household + additional energy storage/transport costs during peak periods

5,000 Euro/household network extension +

4-5,000 Euro/household individual installations (connection)

4-5,000 Euro/household

Installed power

3 kWh

20 kWh

20 kWh

Energy produced

3 MWh/year, electric

20 MWh, thermal + hot water

20 MWh/year, thermal + hot water

Renewable resource




Resource available

Partial and unpredictable

Limited and unpredictable


Resource cost


Large and fluctuating

Small and stable

The principle of cascading use of the wood resource: efficient use of the resource means strong industry, energy security, and a protected environment

The principle of using wood in cascade brings enormous advantages, both for the economy and society as well as for the environment. It involves the judicious use of the wood resource, with the superior valorisation of each fraction of the resource at each additional processing step, and can be easily understood by means of an example.

Let’s take a cubic meter of wood. If it becomes firewood and is burned in a traditional stove, it can produce at most 2.5 MWh of energy.

The same cubic meter of wood can be introduced into industrial processing chains, through which timber, furniture, houses, or other timber products are obtained. This processing means added value, it means jobs and contribution to the well-being of communities. And the residues resulting from each processing stage (bark, sawdust, etc.), if they are industrially dried, pelletized, and used in installations with higher energy yields (biomass plants or pellet boilers), produce the same amount of 2.5 MWh energy – pellets have a much higher calorific value.

So by using the wood resource in cascade, the same amount of energy can be obtained with enormous additional benefits – including wood products. And the resource-generating forest is protected because no additional wood is harvested to be burned as firewood, with extremely low economic and energy returns.


The opportunity to implement a national support scheme for the installation of pellet plants is enormous. The costs would amount to 4-5,000 Euro/household, much less than would be invested to connect a household to the gas network or with solar installations of comparable power.