Fuel cells, batteries and supercapacitors are critical to meet the rising global demand for clean, sustainable energy. Biomass-derived activated carbon can be obtained with tailored properties to fulfil the extensive need for low-cost, high-performance, catalyst and electrode materials. To investigate the possibility of nanoporous nitrogen-doped carbon materials as catalysts in fuel cells and electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, biomass precursors were thermochemically activated with NaOH at 800 °C, nitrogen was introduced using dicyandiamide and doping was performed at 800 °C. The chemical composition, porous structure, texture and electrochemical properties of the obtained materials change depending on the biomass precursor used. It has been found that the most promising precursor of the obtained materials is wood char, both as an oxygen reduction catalyst in fuel cells, which shows better properties than the commercial 20% Pt/C catalyst, and as an anode material in Li-ion batteries. However, catalysts based on black liquor and hybrid material have comparable properties with commercial 20% Pt/C catalyst and can be considered as a cheaper alternative.