Biomass energy consumption is very important for Chile, particularly that of firewood and forest residues. Indeed, in 2014 this fuels represented 24% of the primary energy matrix (MINENERGIA, 2014), a value that is underestimated due to an inaccuracy observed in the estimation of industrial consumption, and some types of biomass such as industrial waste and charcoal.

Biomass is used for residential heating, cooking, production of hot water and of steam to generate electricity. Thus, consumption is led by the industrial sector with 46% of the demand, followed by the rural residential sector (33%), the urban residential sector (19%) and the public-commercial sector (3%) (Gómez -Lobo, 2006).

Within the residential energy demand, the highest level of consumption corresponds to heating needs (Figure 1), which suggest that it would be useful to focus the public policies and strategic actions on the residential heating, which could have a greater impact on the reduction of national energy consumption.

Figure 1. Residencial energy use
Source: Uso de Energía en los Hogares, Chile 2018. In Data SpA, CDT

The high level of biomass consumption is multifactorial, but some of its causes are the low temperatures during winter (especially on the southern regions of Chile), the large amount of forests on those regions, and its consequent low cost compared to other heating fuels (liquefied gas, kerosene, electricity, etc.) and the low thermal performance of dwellings.

Furthermore, the residential sector is not the only one that consumes large amounts of firewood. From 2000 onwards the industrial consumption has increased (Gómez-Lobo, 2006), and an important increase on biomass to produce electricity and pellet has been observed. This area studies the energy consumption profiles across the country, mainly in the residential sector, and analyzes its main drivers.

Asociated research:

– BES N°5: Demanda de leña y políticas de energía en el centro-sur de Chile

– BES N°6: Consumo de combustibles derivados de la madera y transición energética en la Región de Los Ríos.

– BES N°8: Consumo de combustibles derivados de la madera y transición energética en la Región del Maule. – BES N°11: Consumo de combustibles derivados de la madera en la Región de O’Higgins.

Energy Poverty

State where households have difficulty accessing clean energy sources

Ecosystems and effects

Relation between the use of energy and the environment

Energy Efficiency

Strategies and technologies for efficient use of energy

Energy consumption

Evolution of energy consumption over time