Despite biomass electricity production not showing a significant increase in recent years, the need to rearrange the forest sector and the new governmental plans will provide an opportunity for growth.

Portugal has proved to be one of the European leading countries as far as the investment on the production of renewable energies is concerned. In 2015, 28% of the energy consumed was produced by renewable sources. This means the country is the eighth largest among European countries and the fifth largest among countries that share the euro and is expected to reach 31% in 2020.

In 2016, 58% of the electricity produced in Portugal was generated by renewable sources. In 2017, it slightly decreased to 47%.

Taking into account 2017 most recent data, biomass represented 5.1% of the electricity produced in Portugal, wind power represented 21.6%, hydropower represented 15%, and solar power represented1.6%; the remaining 56.7% were still supported by fossil fuel.

The last 9 years witnessed an exponential growth of electricity generation capacity from biomass. Between 2008 and 2017, power increased from 454 MW to 735 MW, corresponding to an increase of 61,9% In turn, the biomass production of electricity increased by 66% since 2008, ranking the Portuguese current production by 3075 GWh per year.

The target set by the National Action Plan of Energy for 2020 (“PNAER 2020”) of 769 MW of biomass electricity generation capacity by 2020 has almost been fulfilled, although, since 2010 the generation capacity has only increased by 3%.

The Portuguese Government’s current policy aims to change this scenario by issuing new production licenses for biomass energy. Decree law 64/2017 establishes a special and extraordinary regime for the installation and operation of new municipally owned biomass power stations. Municipalities will be allowed to assign their management to public or private entities.

The present paper is intended to provide readers with an overview of this specific sub-sector of renewable energies that could benefit from the long-awaited political impulse regarding the reform of the forest sector.