Consolidated and digestible data for the global domestic wood heating system market is scarce. The following review will focus on the major markets for modern, efficient wood stoves in the EU, US and Canada.

Europe - General

Biomass fuel usage in Europe is highly variable in share, scale and system type (CBBEU, 2009). Major markets are Austria and Germany that are characterised by both large-scale generation and smaller household systems. Similar but smaller scale markets are found in Italy, Finland, Belgium and France. Small scale household-scale systems are typically found in Austria, Switzerland, rural Southern Germany and the Baltics. Pellet stoves are also common in Italy and France. Small household and medium scale district heating systems predominate in Scandinavia (Kofman, 2009).

The EU average for the proportion of biomass for heat was 12.9%. This varies from 59.5% in Sweden and 42.5% in Finland to 1.3% in the UK and 2.1% in the Netherlands. For highlighted countries Austria and Germany it was 25.8% and 9.7% respectively. (AEBIOM, 2012).

Current and future predicted sales breakdown for domestic scale wood heating systems in the EU are as shown in Fig.1 (BIS, 2009). Advanced wood and pellet stoves account for approximately 35% of the EU market. Total installed capacity data for each system type is not available but there is assumed to be approximately 1.5 million pellet stove installed in Europe (AEBIOM, 2012).

Figure 1 - Sales by percentage of total for domestic scale wood heating systems in the EU.

Source: BIS (2009).

Below the markets in Austria, Germany and France are reviewed in more detail.

- Austria

Austria has 46% forest coverage and a significant rural population. The Austrian domestic-scale market for biomass systems is dominated by central heating systems. As of 2012 there were 1.5 million <50kW domestic biomass boiler systems installed compared to only 26,000 stoves systems (Audigane, 2012). A cold winter climate is suggested as the limiting factor for small stoves as they are not efficient enough.

Austria saw an 8-fold increase in biomass systems between 1998 and 2008 (Loibnegger, 2010). This was primarily to replace older, inefficient oil systems as the fuel price increased. 80% of new homes in Austria have a biomass boiler installed with a 25kW typical size (Audigane, 2012).

Austria has had incentives schemes to support biomass heating systems since the 1980s to reduce reliance on heating oil. Schemes vary per province but grant of up to 30% of the investment cost are available, as are subsidised loans (IEA, 2009).

- Germany

The installed base of wood heating systems in Germany is estimated as 9 million units and increasing. One in five German households use wood heating. The majority of system are currently wood stoves but the use of central wood boiler systems has increased to one fifth of wood-burning households. (ANK, 2013). Annual sales are estimated at 400,000 units for all wood systems. (ADEME, 2011).

Germany has a general energy efficiency loan scheme for home improvements with up to €75,000 with loan amount reduced based on achieved improvement and subsided interest rates. Grants for up to 20% are also available. This was instigated in 2001 and is managed by Development Bank, KFW. (KFW, 2013).

- France

In 2000 France set a policy to increase homes heated by wood from 6 to 9 million using the same amount of total wood through increased average efficiency. In 2009 total sales of wood systems was 482,000 units with 256,000 wood stoves. Total sales between 2005 and 2009 were almost 1 million stoves. (ADEME, 2011)

France has tax credit and interest free loan schemes available for energy efficiency improvements. Tax credit of between 15% and 34% are available for wood stoves, with higher credits available for packages of improvements incorporating more than one improvement. (ADEME, 2013).

United States

According to the US EPA, there are 12 million existing wood stoves in the US. Of these 9 million are poor efficiency, non-certified stoves. This compares to 27 million open fires. (EPA, 2013).

Sales of new wood stoves has been falling in the US since 2005. This is assumed to be a result of the weak housing market conditions. Sales in 2005 were c.560,000 wood stoves and c.120,000 pellet stoves. Sales have fallen steadily to 180,000 and 48,000 respectively in 2012 (HPBA, 2013).

The US 2010 Census showed that 2.1% of US households use heat as the primary fuel, and 10-12% as a secondary source. There was a 34% increase in the number of households using wood for heating between 2000 and 2010. 57% are in rural areas, and 40% suburban. The US Forestry Service reports that the majority of users collect their own wood (Forgreenheat, 2010).

Since 2008 there have been various tax credit incentives available for purchasing biomass heating systems. A 10% ($300 max) tax credit scheme for 75%+ efficiency units ceased at the end of 2011 but has been reinstated this year (HPBA, 2013). In 2013, Massachusetts launched a pilot incentive program for the full cost of replacement of old efficient stoves with efficient units (MassDEP, 2013). 


Approximately 3 million households (c. 25%) have some form of wood heating unit (NRCan, 2013), 6% use wood as main fuel source, and wood sources accounted for 13% of household energy use in 2007 (StatCan, 2013).

Unlike the US, total sales of stoves in Canada have been relatively consistent between 2000 and 2012. 2006 was the peak sales year with 60,000 wood stoves and 5000 pellet stove sales. 2012 sales were 39,000 and 6000 repectively. Pellet stove sales have increased significantly from only 100 in 2003. (HPBA, 2013).

In Canada a energy efficiency retrofit incentive scheme ran from 2007 until March 2012 (NRCan, 2013). There is no current major incentive scheme running.


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