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The overall objective of the Biomass Energy Europe (BEE) project is to improve the accuracy and comparability of future biomass resource assessments for energy by reducing heterogeneity, increasing harmonisation and exchanging knowledge. First, similarities and differences between the various approaches, methodologies and datasets used in biomass resource assessments are investigated. Particularly the different approaches and methodologies that are used to integrate sustainability criteria into biomass resource assessments are subject of research. Second, a review is carried out of the results of existing biomass resource assessments. The focus is thereby especially on studies that focus on the world and on the EU. Third, a harmonized approach and harmonisation measures for biomass resource assessments are developed. Fourth, the harmonised approach and harmonisation measures are than applied to several case studies. At this moment, phase one and two are nearly completed and in this paper some preliminary results are presented. Phase one and two show that the results of existing biomass resource assessments vary widely. The variation in results is mainly caused by the approaches and methodologies that are applied. Especially the assumptions that are used to determine the future availability of land for energy crop production are crucial. A key parameter is the efficiency of agricultural production systems, which determines the availability of land that is not needed for the production of food. A crucial gap in data and knowledge is related to the availability and productivity of degraded land, which is not investigated in any of the key studies that are included. Further, we concluded that sustainability aspects are inadequately taken into account. Generally, environmental factors are overrepresented whereas social and economic aspects are taken into account far less frequently. Regarding the environmental dimension, biodiversity and climate aspects are included more often than soil and water aspects. Regarding the social dimension, many studies account for the competition of biomass and land with food which always is given priority. Although many studies assess economic aspects, only few calculate the impact of bioenergy production on crop and food prices by integrating bioenergy production in the existing markets. We conclude that none of the approaches and methodologies is ideal, because each approach and methodology has both advantages and disadvantages.
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Edward Smeets1, Andre Faaij1, Matthias Dees2, Dirk Lemp2, Barbara Koch2, Jo van Busselen3, Katja Gunia (Tröltzsch)3,
Vadim Goltsev3, Marcus Lindner3, Steffen Fritz4, Hannes Böttcher4, Pirkko Vesterinen5, Kati Verijonen5, Göran Berndes6,
Stefan Wirsenius6, Douwe van den Berg7, Martijn Vis7, Nils Rettenmaier8, Susanne Koeppen8, Georgiy Geletukha9, Kiril
Popovski10, Sanja Vasilevska10, Grzegorz Kunikowski11, Petro Lakyda12, Sergiy Zibtsev12, Davorin Kajba13, Velemir
Segon13, Julije Domac13, Uwe Schneider14, Chrystalyn Ivie Ramos14, Ioannis Eleftheriadis15, Myrsini Christou15, Aleksi
Lehtonen16, Jukka Mustonen16, Perttu Anttila16.
1 University of Utrecht, Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development - Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS
Utrecht, The Netherlands. Email:, phone ++31 30 2537688, fax ++31 30 253 7601
2 University of Freiburg, Abteilung FELIS, Tennenbacherstrasse 4, 79085 Freiburg, Germany.
3 European Forest Institute, Torikatu 34, 80100 Joensuu, Finland.
4 International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Schlossplatz 1, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria.
5. Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O.Box 1603, 40101 Jyväskylä, Finland.
6 Chalmers University of Technology, Physical Resource Theory, Dept. Energy and Environment, 412 96 Göteborg, Sweden.
7 BTG Consultancy, P.O. Box 835, 7500 AV Enschede, The Netherlands.
8 Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg. Wilckensstrasse 3, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
9 Scientific Engineering Centre ”Biomass”, P.O Box 66, 03067 Kiev, Ukraine.
10 Macedonian Geothermal Association, ul. Dame Gruev br.1-3/16, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia.
11 EC Baltic Renewable Energy Centre, Jagiellonska 55, 03-301 Warzawa, Poland
12 National Agricultural University of Ukraine, 15 Heroiv Oborony str., Kyiv, 03041, Ukraine.
13 Faculty of Forestry University of Zagreb, Svetošimunska 25, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.
14 University of Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.
15 Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, 19th km Marthonos Ave., 190 09 Pikermi, Greece
16 Finnish Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 18, 01301 Vantaa, Finland
ABSTRACT: The overall objective of the Biomass Energy Europe (BEE) project is to improve the accuracy and
comparability of future biomass resource assessments for energy by reducing heterogeneity, increasing harmonisation
and exchanging knowledge. First, similarities and differences between the various approaches, methodologies and
datasets used in biomass resource assessments are investigated. Particularly the different approaches and
methodologies that are used to integrate sustainability criteria into biomass resource assessments are subject of
research. Second, a review is carried out of the results of existing biomass resource assessments. The focus is thereby
especially on studies that focus on the world and on the EU. Third, a harmonized approach and harmonisation
measures for biomass resource assessments are developed. Fourth, the harmonised approach and harmonisation
measures are than applied to several case studies. At this moment, phase one and two are nearly completed and in this
paper some preliminary results are presented. Phase one and two show that the results of existing biomass resource
assessments vary widely. The variation in results is mainly caused by the approaches and methodologies that are
applied. Especially the assumptions that are used to determine the future availability of land for energy crop
production are crucial. A key parameter is the efficiency of agricultural production systems, which determines the
availability of land that is not needed for the production of food. A crucial gap in data and knowledge is related to the
availability and productivity of degraded land, which is not investigated in any of the key studies that are included.
Further, we concluded that sustainability aspects are inadequately taken into account. Generally, environmental
factors are overrepresented whereas social and economic aspects are taken into account far less frequently. Regarding
the environmental dimension, biodiversity and climate aspects are included more often than soil and water aspects.
Regarding the social dimension, many studies account for the competition of biomass and land with food which
always is given priority. Although many studies assess economic aspects, only few calculate the impact of bioenergy
production on crop and food prices by integrating bioenergy production in the existing markets. We conclude that
none of the approaches and methodologies is ideal, because each approach and methodology has both advantages and
Keywords: potential, assessment, modelling, production, European Union.
Policy and decision makers in the EU have put
energy policy objectives high on the agenda, including
the promotion of the use of biomass as an energy source.
European Community policy aims for a strong increase
of renewable energy in the EU's overall energy mix (from
less than 7% today to 20% by 2020) and a considerable
increase of the share of biofuels in the transport sector
with a target of 10% of vehicle fuel by 2020 [1].
To achieve these targets it is essential to have
resource assessments that are clear, reliable and detailed
enough, both for policy, e.g. for the Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP), and for industry. This raises
the need for reliable knowledge of the biomass potentials
for energy in Europe, based on a commonly accepted,
EU-wide approach to the assessments. However, biomass
resource potential assessments for energy for the same
geographic entity differ largely from each other [2-6].
The most important reasons for the considerable variation
in the results are:
The heterogeneity of methodologies and
approaches that are used.
The heterogeneity of datasets that are used.
The use of different data and assumptions (due
to missing empirical data) for certain aspects
(e.g. conversion factors, waste fractions,
The heterogeneity of factors and assumptions
used to consider the production and utilisation
of biomass, e.g. sustainability, demand and
competition with other sectors.
The heterogeneity of approaches used for the
integration of technological learning curves,
both in the production sector of biomass and in
biomass-to-energy conversion.
Furthermore, the scope of existing biomass resource
assessments vary with regard to the biomass categories
considered, e.g. energy crops, forest residues or total
potentials (see further Section 2.4), the scale of the
analysis (e.g. local, regional and global), the timeframe of
the analysis, and the type of potentials considered (see
further Section 2.3). Finally, also meeting the criteria of
sustainable production, as well as implementation
aspects, can further limit usable biomass resources. As a
consequence, different nomenclatures and
categorizations, and the differing definitions of resource
levels from bio-physical to implementation potential,
hinder the comparability of the results of various
The overall objective of the Biomass Energy Europe
(BEE) project is to improve the accuracy and
comparability of future biomass resource assessments for
energy by reducing heterogeneity, increasing
harmonisation and exchanging knowledge. In this paper
some preliminary results are presented of a review of
biomass resource assessments. Specific attention thereby
is paid to the impact of the use different approaches,
methodologies and datasets. The emphasis is thereby
especially on studies that focus on the world and on
Europe. More information about the BEE project can be
found on
2.1 Project structure
The BEE project consists of four phases.
1. An analysis of the similarities and differences
between the various approaches, methodologies and
datasets used in biomass assessments is carried out. This
also includes an analysis of similarities and differences
between the various approaches, the identification of
possible synergies by combining various methodologies
and datasets and the identification of remaining
knowledge gaps and missing data for biomass
assessments. The focus is thereby again on Europe, but
also studies with other geographical scopes are included.
2. A detailed review is carried out of the results of
existing biomass resource assessments. The objective is
to provide an in-depth insight into state-of-the-art
biomass resource assessments. The analysis includes a
selection of biomass resource studies of Europe, but also
global, national and regional are included. This analysis
results in a documentation and identification of major
differences and discrepancies.
3. The results of the previous two phases are used as
starting point for phase three. Phase three is the
development of a harmonized approach and
harmonisation measures for biomass resource
assessment. The harmonisation is targeted at the
following issues:
Methodological approaches to determine technical
Methodological approaches to determine cost-
supply curves of biomass resources, economic and
implementation potential.
Integration of supply and demand leading to overall
economic potentials.
Methodologies to define and determine sustainable
and implementation potentials.
Data resources.
Methodological approaches to determine
biophysical and technical potentials are directed to
the formulation of best practices for determination
of biomass potentials at different spatial scales using
earth observations, statistic info, modelling, etc.
regarding the data availability (both current and near
future) for various geographical scopes.
4. The harmonised approach and harmonisation
measures are applied to several case studies. These
illustration cases will be carried out at different
geographic scales. The main illustration case will be
implemented at the European level and will provide
estimates both for EU-27 and the Pan-European region.
These illustration cases will provide not only information
on European and national biomass potentials, but also
demonstrate how a biomass resource assessment using a
harmonised approach can be performed. Thus, regional
differences in data availability and access, as well as the
latest methodological achievements or coordinated R&D,
will be considered. The single resource studies will be
documented using the developed documentation standard
allowing a clear classification of biomass categories. The
assessment of both single biomass categories and overall
assessments including all categories, both at the
supranational level (e.g. at the EU level) and at the
national and local level, will be subject to that
harmonisation. Relevant methodologies and data issues
per major estimation steps for each biomass category will
be analysed for improvement and harmonisation
potential. Both resource assessments aimed at statistical
results for an area of interest (e.g. EC-27, a single state),
and assessments providing information on the spatial
distribution of biomass resources in form of maps or
geographic information systems will be studied.
In the remaining of this paper, the focus is the first
two phases, which are currently being completed.
2.2 Selection of studies
First, a database of circa 250 bioenergy potential
assessments is compiled, out of which 28 studies are
selected for detailed analysis. The 28 studies are chosen
so that they cover the variability found in the literature
with respect to the type of biomass (see further Section
2.3), the type of bioenergy potential (see further Section
2.4) and the approach and methodology (see further
Sections 3.1 and 3.2). Other selection criteria are, among
others the level of advancement (the selected studies
include the current state-of-the-art in the field of
bioenergy potential assessments), the integration of
demand and supply (studies in which the links between
the demand and supply of different biomass categories
are investigated are given priority above studies that
focus on one type of biomass) and the inclusion of
sustainably aspects (special attention is paid to studies
that investigate the links between the bioenergy and
various sustainability criteria are selected). The selected
studies are listed in Table I.
2.3 Type of biomass
The term biomass refers to three types of biomass,
which are defined as follows:
Forestry and forestry residues. Forestry biomass
refers to harvests from natural forests, plantations
(including short rotation forestry (SRF)) and other
wooded land and trees outside forests (including
orchards, vineyards). Forestry residues include both
primary residues, i.e. leftovers from cultivation and
harvesting activities (twigs, branches, thinning
material etc.) and secondary residues, i.e. those
resulting from any processing steps (sawdust, bark,
black liquor etc.). Tertiary residues, i.e. used wood
(wood in household waste, demolition wood etc.)
are considered in the category “organic waste”.
Energy crops on agricultural land and marginal
land. Energy crops include all crops with the
purpose of producing biomass for energy use
(including short rotation coppice (SRC)). Marginal
land is not well defined in the literature, but the term
marginal generally refers to the (low) productivity of
the land.
Agricultural residues and organic waste.
Agricultural residues is the by-product of
agricultural practice (cultivation of farms and
harvesting activities), labelled as “primary” and
processing of agricultural products, e.g. for food or
feed production, labelled as “secondary”. Organic
waste is divided into materials produced from
houses and from industrial and trade activities. Also
sludge and biogas from sewage treatment plants as
well as landfill gas are considered biomass from
organic waste.
Aquatic biomass (algae, seaweed, etc.) is excluded,
because the potential of this type of biomass is highly
uncertain and data are estimates are scarce. Peat is also
excluded, since peat is not a renewable type of biomass
within the timeframes that are relevant for climate and
energy policies.
2.4 Type of biomass potential
An important difference between existing biomass
studies is the potential that is investigated. Four types of
biomass potentials are distinguished.
Theoretical potential: the overall maximum amount
of terrestrial biomass which can be considered
theoretically available for bioenergy production
within fundamental bio-physical limits. In the case
of biomass from crops and forests, the theoretical
potential represents the maximum productivity
under theoretically optimal management taking into
account limitations that result from temperature,
solar radiation and rainfall [7-9]. In the case of
residues and waste, the theoretical potential equals
the total amount that is produced.
Technical potential: The fraction of the theoretical
potential which is available under the regarded
techno-structural framework conditions and with the
current technological possibilities, also taking into
account spatial confinements due to competition
with other land uses (food, feed and fibre
production) as well as ecological (e.g. nature
reserves) and other non-technical constraints.
Economic potential: The share of the technical
potential which meets criteria of economic
profitability within the given framework conditions.
Implementation potential: The fraction of the
economic potential that can be implemented within a
certain time frame and under concrete socio-political
framework conditions, including economic,
institutional and social constraints and policy
incentives. Studies that focus on the feasibility or on
the economic, environmental or social impacts of
bioenergy policies are also included in this category.
In theory, a fifth potential can be distinguished, which is
the environmentally or ecologically sustainable potential,
defined as the fraction of the theoretical potential which
meets certain environmental criteria. However, the
environmentally or ecologically sustainable potential is
not investigated separately in the BEE project, because
the environmental criteria are generally included together
with other (technical, economic) constraints.
The results of the categorisation of studies are shown
in Table I. It should be noted that the definitions of
potentials in literature are often not fully consistent with
the definitions presented above. Biomass energy
assessments that focus on a certain type of potential often
also include limitations that, according to the definitions
above, are relevant for another type of potential. Further,
several studies explicitly, or implicitly, analyse several
types of potentials.
3.1 Approaches used in biomass resource assessments
Two types of approaches can be distinguished:
Resource-focussed assessments investigate the
bioenergy resource base and the competition
between different uses of the resources, i.e. the focus
is on the biomass energy supply side. Resource-
focussed assessments generally investigate the
theoretical and technical potentials, taking into
account the demand for land and biomass for the
production of food and materials as function of
among others, population and income growth. Yet,
environmental limitations or economic criteria are
often also included; particularly the protection of
biodiversity is usually included.
Demand-driven assessments analyze the
competitiveness of biomass-based energy systems,
compared to conventional fossil fuel based energy
systems as well as other renewable energy systems
and nuclear energy, or estimate the production and
use of biomass required to meet exogenous targets
on climate-neutral energy supply, i.e. the focus is on
the biomass energy demand side. Thus, demand-
driven studies typically focus on the economic and
implementation potentials, more than on the
theoretical and technical potentials. However, some
studies start with an evaluation of the feasibility of
the projected use of bioenergy, via reference to other
studies or by estimating the technical biomass
potential. Climate and energy policies are crucial in
Table I. Details of the key studies that are selected for detailed analysis in the BEE project (TT = theoretical or technical; EI = economic or implementation; C = energy crops, F = forest and
forestry residues, R = agricultural residues and W = waste).
studies Type of
Methodology Time-
frame Geographical
aggregation of
type Rationale and remarks
1 Berndes and
Hansson [10] EI Energy model 2030 EU27, regions CFR This study uses the Perspectives on European Energy Pathways (PEEP) model, which is also used within the VIEWLS project.
2 De Vries et al [11] TT-EI Integrated modelling 2050 World, regions CF Based on an IAM, namely the Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment, which is also used in several other studies [12-14].
3 Dornburg et al. [15] TT-EI Review 2100 World C Particularly the analysis of the links between bioenergy and the use of biomass for food and materials and the food production, wood
production for materials, biodiversity and fresh water supplies, but also the review of global biomass potentials are potentially very useful for
4 EEA [16] TT Statistical analysis and
spatially explicit analysis 2030 EU25, countries CFRW Comprehensive, state-of-the-art assessment. Particularly interesting because of the methodology and approach used to include environmental
criteria in biomass potentials. Statistical analysis and spatially explicit analysis are used in combination with several models (e.g. EFI-GTM,
5 EEA [17] TT Statistical analysis and
spatially explicit analysis 2030 EU25, countries F Comprehensive, state-of-the-art assessment of forestry biomass potentials. Particularly interesting because of the methodology and approach
used to include environmental criteria in biomass potentials. The use of forest biomass for other purposes is modelled using the EFISCEN
model of the European Forest Institute (EFI), but several other models are also used. This report includes supporting of EEA [16].
6 EEA [18] TT Statistical analysis and
spatially explicit analysis,
plus several models
2030 EU25, countries C Comprehensive, state-of-the-art assessment of potentials from energy crops and agricultural residues and waste. Particularly interesting
because of the methodology and a
proach used to include environmental criteria in biomass potentials and the scenarios related to agricultural
land use. Several models are used to model the availability of land for energy crop production. This report includes supporting of EEA [16].
7 Ericsson and
Nilsson [4] TT Statistical analysis 2040 EU27 FRW This study is a representative study based on statistical analysis and partially includes a review of biomass energy assessments in Europe.
8 Eickhout and Prins
[12] TT-IE Integrated assessment 2030 EU27, countries CFRW This study describes the technical details of the EURURALIS project. The goal of EURURALIS is, among others, to investigating the
integrated impact on socio-economic and environmental indicators as well as on land-use that is assessed for different possible and plausible
scenarios. The production and use is thereby one scenario variable. This study uses the Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment,
combined with the economic model LEITAP. See also
9 Gordon et al [19-
22] TT-IE Statistical analysis, spatially
explicit analysis, cost supply
2015 USA CFRW Detailed state-of-the-art resource-focussed study. Especially interesting because of the many factors that are taken into account when assessing
the potentials.
10 Hoogwijk et al. [13] EI Integrated assessment 2100 World, regions CFRW Based on Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment (IMAGE), which is an integrated assessment model. This study includes the
Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) of the IPCC.
11 IEA [23-25] EI Energy model 2050 World, regions CFRW The World Energy Outlook report series is an influential series of publication.
12 Link et al. [26] TT-EI Energy model EU25, countries C This study uses the EUFASOM model as described in detail in Schneider and Schwab [27]. See also Kraxner et al. [28].
13 Masera et al. [29] TT Statistical analysis and
spatially explicit analysis 2010 National FR Wood fuel Integrated Supply/Demand Overview Mapping (WISDOM), a spatially-explicit planning tool which combines resource focused an
demand driven approaches to highlight and determine wood fuel priority areas or “wood fuel hot spots”.
14 Obersteiner et al.
(2006) TT-EI Integrated assessment 2120 World FR This study applied an innovative analytical framework to estimate the joint production of biomass and carbon sequestration from afforestation
and reforestation activities. The analysis is based on geographical explicit information in combination with the IPCC-SRES scenarios. This
study uses a similar approach and methodology as Hoogwijk et al. (2004).
15 OECD (2006) EI Energy model 2015 World, regions,
major countries C This study uses three state-of-the-art economic models, Cosimo, the OECD World Sugar Model and Aglink. Only first-generation biofuels are
16 Paustian et al. [30] TT-EI Review 2015 USA CR The comparison of bioenergy with other GHG mitigation strategies in agriculture is very useful, which are partially discussed based on a
review of bioenergy potentials and other relevant studies on e.g. carbon sinks.
17 Perlack et al. [31] TT Statistical analysis, Cost
supply assessment 2050 USA CFRW Particularly the three scenarios that vary with respect to agricultural production systems are interesting, but also with respect to the general
approach and the many factors that are considered.
18 REFUEL [32] TT-EI Spatially explicit analysis,
Cost supply assessment 2030 EU25, NUTS 2 CFRW State-of-the-art comprehensive and complex assessment, based on several state-of-the-art models and tools, such as the BioTrans model of the
Netherlands Energy Centre, the Agro-Ecological Zones Model of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the
Perspectives on European Energy Pathways (PEEP) model of Chalmers University. The assessment also includes an assessment of socio-
economics and implementation barriers. Results of the REFUEL project include a final report [32], plus more than 15 supporting reports. See
19 RENEW [33, 34] TT-EI Statistical assessment, Cost
supply assessment 2020 EU25, countries,
regions, NUTS
CFRW The RENEW project includes an assessment of the theoretical, technical and economic potential of woody biomass. Also the environmental
effects are investigated. The potential of energy crops is investigated via scenario analysis that varies with respect to the production system.
Only lignocellulose biomass is included. EU funded research project. See also
20 Royityanskiy et al.
[35] TT-EI Integrated assessment 2100 World FR This study applies the Integrated Model of Forestry and Alternative Land Use (DIMA) to quantify the economic potential of global forests (i.e.
reforestation, deforestation, or conservation and management options) in the case of different IPCC-SRES scenarios.
21 Scenar 2020 [36] N/A N/A N/A EU25, NUTS 2 C State-of-the-art scenario analysis of agricultural land use in the EU. Three economic models (LEITAP, ESIM, CAPRI), a more ecological-
environmental based model framework (IMAGE) are used, as well as a land use allocation model (CLUE-s) to disaggregate the outcomes to
the landscape level. The consumption of biofuels is an exogenous scenario variable. Particularly relevant for modelling agricultural land use.
Three reports are available, a final report and a technical report of two volumes. See further
22 Siemons et al. [37] TT-EI Statistical assessment,
Energy model 2020 EU27, countries CFRW Very comprehensive assessment: detailed analysis of technical potentials, followed by analysis of economic potentials, using the SAFIRE
energy model, based on scenario analysis, that vary among other with respect to the price of CO2 credits.
23 Sims et al. [38] TT Statistical assessment 2050 World, regions C Review assessment.
24 Thrän et al [39] TT-EI Statistical assessment, 2020 EU 28, countries CRFW Analysis of technical potentials, which are compared with the demand for biomass energy based on policy driven scenarios. Also includes
GHG emissions.
25 VIEWLS [40] TT-EI Statistical Assessment, Cost
Supply Assessment, Energy
2030 EU, east and
central EU
countries only
CFRW Biomass energy implementation scenarios are compiled based on a.o. the environmental and economic performance of various biomass energ
supply chains. See also [41] [42]
26 Von Brown [43] N/A Impact assessment 2025 World, countries C Assessment of the impact of bioenergy policies on food prices using the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities
and Trade (IMPACT) model. The International Food Policy Reseach Institute (IFPRI) is a respected research institute that publishes state-of-
the-art projections of food production and consumption.
27 Ten Brink et al.
[15] N/A Integrated assessment 2100 Global C This study investigates policy options that can have a major positive or negative impact on biodiversity. The use of biofuels is one of the polic
options. The innovative element of this study is the analysis of net biodiversity impacts of bioenergy, i.e. the impacts of increased conversion
of natural vegetation to agricultural land vs. the impact of reduced biodiversity losses due to reduced GHG emissions. This study incorporates
three models, namely an agricultural trade model (Global Trade Analysis Project or GTAP), the Integrated Model to Assess the Global
Environment (IMAGE) and a global biodiversity assessment model (GLOBIO). See also Van Vuuren et al. (2006) and Section 5 in Dornburg
et al. (2008). ). In Dornburg et al (2008), this study is referred to as CBD & MNP (2007).
28 Kline et al. [44] TT-EI Statistical analysis, Cost
supply assessment 2027 Countries CFR Detailed, thorough analysis (co-authored by Perlack, so potentially a similar approach and methodology as in Perlack et al. (2005).
demand-driven assessments, but also the
assumptions about population growth, economic
development, technology development and the
energy intensity of economic activities are important
variables. Population growth and economic
development are principal factors behind overall
energy end-use. Further, some other studies use
agricultural economics models to investigate the
economics of the use of conventional agricultural
crops for energy production.
Integrated modelling assessments use integrated
assessment models (IAMs), which are designed to
assess policy options for climate change. IAMs
include mathematical correlations between the
socio-economic drivers of economic activity and
energy use, which lead to emissions and other
pressure on the environment leading to
environmental changes, which lead to physical
impacts on ecosystems, which lead to socio-
economic impacts and eventually return to cause
changes in the socio-economic drivers. IAMs are
unique because they combine information about
economic, energy and climate variables across
various scientific disciplines, time, and spatial
scales. IAMs are particularly useful for the purpose
of addressing policy questions, mostly by means of
scenario analysis. Often IAMs consist of several
linked models and tools.
The approaches used in the 28 selected studies are
shown in Table I.
3.2 Methodologies used in biomass resource assessments
In this subsection the methodologies used in the 28
selected studies are categorised, described and discussed.
Table I shows categorisation of the 28 studies according
to the methodologies that are used. A generalised
overview of the different combinations of approaches and
methodologies that are found is presented in Table II.
The following methodologies are identified:
Statistical analysis. The least complicated studies
estimate the energy potential based on assumptions
about the yield per hectare, based on expert
judgement, field studies or a literate review, in
combination with assumptions about the fraction of
land available for energy crops or the fraction of
forest biomass that is available for energy
production to account for the use of land and
biomass for other purposes and environmental or
social barriers. Often results from other studies are
thereby used, but some several other studies use
scenario analysis. The potential of residues and
waste is generally calculated based on projections of
the production of food and wood, multiplied by
residue and waste generation coefficients and
multiplied by a factor that account for the fact that
many residues and wastes can not be collected in
practice. Some studies also assess the use of residues
for other purposes. This category of analysis is
referred to as statistical analysis, because data for
this type of analysis start from statistics.
Spatially explicit analysis. The most advanced
resource-focussed assessments include spatially
explicit data on the availability of land and forests in
combination with calculations of the yields of
energy crops and forests, based on data on crop
growth models that use spatially explicit data on
climate, soil type and crop management. The
availability of agricultural land for energy crop
production is estimated taking into account the use
of land for the production of food and other
purposes, using scenario analysis that take into
account agricultural policies, technological
development, population growth, income growth,
and so forth. A type of land that has received special
attention in our research is degraded and marginal
land, because this type of land is partially or not
suitable for conventional agriculture. So the use of
these types of areas does not lead to competition
with food. The same approach is applied when
estimating the potential of forestry and forestry
residues and agricultural residues and organic waste.
Cost-supply analysis. Cost-supply analysis start
from a bottom up analysis of the potential, based on
assumptions on the availability of land for energy
crop production, including crop yields, or based on
assumptions on the availability of forestry and
forestry residues. The demand of land and biomass
for other purposes and environmental and other
(social, technical) limitations are included, ideally
by scenario analysis. The resulting bioenergy cost-
supply curves are than combined with estimates of
the costs of other energy systems or policy
alternatives, often with specific attention for policy
incentives (e.g. tax exemptions, carbon credits, and
mandatory blending targets). A nice examples is the
REFUEL project [32].
Table II. An overview of the combinations of approaches and methodologies that are used in existing biomass energy assessments to
investigate different types of biomass potentials. Type of biomass potential
General approach General methodology
Theoretical-technical Economic-
Resource-focussed Statistical analysis Yes No
Resource-focussed Spatially explicit analysis Yes No
Demand-driven Cost-supply analysis Noa Yes
Demand-driven Energy-economics and energy-system model analysis No Yes
Integrated assessment modelling Integrated assessment model analysis Yesb Yesb
a Some demand-driven cost-supply analysis start with a statistical analysis or spatially explicit analysis of technical biomass energy
potentials, although this is not the key focus of these studies.
b Some demand-driven energy-economics and energy-system model analysis use the results of cost-supply analysis.
c IAMs typically focus on the economic and/or implementation potential, although IAMs are also used for the theoretical and/or technical
biomass energy potential.
Energy-economics and energy-system model
analysis and other economic models. Several studies
use energy-economics and energy-system models,
but also other economic models are sometimes
applied. Energy-economics and energy-system
models mimic the dynamics of the demand and
supply of energy, including bioenergy, by means of
investigating economic and non-economic
correlations. Most energy-economics and energy
system models use scenarios, whereby typical
scenario variables include the fundamental drivers
of energy demand and supply, such as population
growth and income growth, as well as technological
developments, policy incentives. These variables are
often integrated into a coherent set of scenario
assumptions. Some models also include greenhouse
gas and energy balances for different energy
systems, which allows for the optimisation of costs
towards greenhouse gas reduction or energy security
Integrated modelling assessments. See Section 3.1.
3.3 Energy crops on agricultural land and marginal land
Here a comparison of results for the availability of
land for energy crops in the EU15 is presented. More
results will be made available in the future. All studies
indicate considerable amount of agricultural land
potentially available for energy crops in the EU. Figure 1
shows the land available for energy crops in selected
studies and scenarios. The comparison shows that
variations between results are growing in future
projections. The lowest potential is estimated by Thrän et
al [39] in case of the environmentally oriented scenario
and in the RENEW project [33, 34]. Values start from
around 4 Mha in 2000 to between 14 and 17 Mha. The
highest estimates are given in REFUEL [32], in case of
the ‘high estimate’ scenario. The highest value is about
79 Mha in 2040, which is calculated by Ericsson and
Nilsson [4]. This estimate gives extremely high potential
also in most countries and is a consequence of the simple
assumption that 0.24 ha per capita is needed for food
production and rest of land may be managed for energy
crops. When the results for the EU27 are disaggregated
into two groups, namely the EU15 (old EU member
states) and EU12 (new EU member states), the variability
in results appears to be different for these two regions.
The variability of results is significantly lower for EU15
than for EU12. The estimates by Thrän et al [39] for
EU15 in 2020 are an exception and the same estimates
are rather moderate in results for EU12.
Further, an analysis of national results also reveals
interesting results. Thrän et al [39] projects no potential
for energy crops in case of the environmental scenario in
Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and United
Kingdom. However, in EEA [16] opposite trends are
projected for some countries. Despite of growing trend in
averages in Greece, Finland, Portugal and Sweden the
trend of land availability is considerable decreasing. In
some countries like Spain, France, Germany, United
Kingdom, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania the differences
are higher than in other countries.
The assumption made by Ericsson and Nilsson [4] of
0,24 ha per capita for food also gives interesting results.
In most countries land availability estimated with this
assumption and methodology results in the highest value.
There are some exception, countries like Belgium,
Germany and the Netherlands, where there is no land
available according to this assumption.
Figure 1. The availability of land for energy crop production in different countries in the EU 15.
3.4 Forestry and forestry residues
Figure 2 provides an overview of biomass potentials
of forestry and forestry residues of some of the studies
that are investigated. More results will be made available
in the future.
These potentials reported by Thrän et al. [39] and by
Ericsson and Nilsson [4] amount to 2.9 EJ/year for the
year 2000, which decreases to 2.2 EJ/year for 2030. The
numbers refer to technical potentials which are derived
from forest and logging residues as well as additional
feelings in the case of Thrän et al. [39]. The figure for
2030 given by Ericsson and Nilsson [4] includes forest
residues and forest industry by-products under a scenario
of high biomass removal. Thrän et al. [39] assume that
future demand for roundwood will increase stronger than
the amount of fellings. This results in a decrease of the
estimated bioenergy potential between 2000 and 2030.
Ericsson and Nilsson give a further estimate for the
technical potential in 2030 under a scenario of low
biomass removal which is 0.5 EJ/year lower than the
number stated above. Estimates by Ericsson and his
colleague for the years 2010 and 2020 are lower than
those reported by other studies.
Technical potentials with consideration of
environmental sustainability are estimated by EEA [16,
17] and RENEW [33]. When considering complementary
fellings (wood balance fraction) based on unused forest
growth, the given figures vary between 0.7 EJ/year in the
year 2000 [33], 2.2 EJ/year in 2010 [16, 17], 0.8 – 2.1
EJ/year in 2020 [16, 17, 33] and 2.1 EJ/year in 2030 [16,
17]. While the results of RENEW [33] are based on
EU27 (excl. Malta and Cyprus), the EEA [16, 17]
estimates refer only to 21 EU countries. The given
sustainable potentials in RENEW [33] seem low when
considering the fact that forest residues, thinnings, roots,
stumps and additional fellings (wood balance fellings) are
included. However, the study accounts for different
factors which reduce the biomass potential considerably.
These factors reflect the fraction of woody biomass used
for industry and the fraction which cannot be removed for
ecological or other reasons. Furthermore, only forest
available for wood supply is considered. In contrary, the
environmentally sustainable potentials listed in EEA [16,
17] seem rather high which can be explained by the fact
that they (at least in the ‘Maximum scenario’) do not only
cover regular forestry residues, but also complementary
fellings and residues from these fellings. Under a
scenario considering protected forest areas and
biodiversity, the potentials given by EEA [16, 17] are
lower: 1.8 EJ/year in 2010 and 1.6 in 2020 and 2030.
Furthermore, without the consideration of
complementary fellings the numbers are much lower,
equalling only 0.6 EJ/year in 2010 and 0.7 EJ/year in
2020 and 2030. The results of the study represent the
average resource potentials per unit of forest area in a
pixel based map of the 'environmentally compatible'
resource potentials (technical potential). It was then
aggregated from 1x1km to NUTS 2 level for 21 EU
countries. The estimated potentials by EEA [16, 17] do
not differ much in time, depending on scenario the
potential is 0.6 – 2.2 EJ in 2010 and 0.7 – 2.1 EJ in 2030.
Techni cal potentialincludingrawwoodfromunusedforestgrowth,firewoodand loggingresidue sunderthe
assumptionthatfellingswillnotincreaseasstronglyasthedemandforroundwoodby2020(EU27). [Thränetal.2006]
Techni cal potentialofbiomassenergyfromforestry byproducts&(refined)woodfuels(EU27) .[Siemonsetal.2004]
Techni cal potentialofsurplusroundwoodandforestresidue sfromregularandcompleme ntaryfellings.Considers
environmentalandecologicalconstrai nts(EU25excl.GR,LU,MT,CY).[EEA2007a]
Techni cal potentialofsurplusroundwoodandforestresidue sfromregular&complementaryfellings.Considers
environmental&ecologicalconst raint sandprotectedforestareas&biodiversity(EU25excl.GR,LU,MT,CY).[EEA
Techni cal potentialofforestresi dues andforestindustrybyproductsassuminghighintensityofbiomassremoval
(EU25excl.MT,CY).[EricssonandNilsson2006‐ave rageofthe2010&2030estimates]
Techni cal potentialofforestresi dues andforestindustrybyproductsassuminglowintensityofbiomassremoval
(EU25excl.MT,CY).[EricssonandNilsson2006‐ave rageofthe2010&2030estimates]
Techni cal potentialofloggingre sidu es, thinnings, roots&stumps,woodbalancefraction,andwoodindustryresidues
underascenarioofintensivebiomassproduction.Considerssustainability(EU27excl.MT,CY).[REN EW2008a]
Techni cal potentialofloggingre sidu es, thinnings, roots&stumps,woodbalancefraction,andwoodindustryresidues
underascenarioofbiomassproductionwithminimalrequi redinputs.Consi derssustainability(EU27excl.MT,CY).
Techni cal potentialofforestresi dues fromregula rfellings.Considersenvironmentalandecologicalconstraints(EU25
excl.GR,LU,MT,CY).[EEA2007a ]
Implementationpotentialforbiofuelsgene ratedfromsecondgeneration resid ues:re sidu esfromforestry ,residues
fromwoodindustry,andlignocellulosicresidues fromagricult ure(straw)(EU27).[REFUEL2008]
Figure 2. Potentials estimated for year 2020, the potentials should be measured from the x-axis to the upper edge of the
respective color.
The implementation potential as reported by
REFUEL [32] for the EU27 represents the lowest
estimates with 0.1 EJ/year in 2010 and an increase to 0.5
EJ/year in 2020 and 2030. These estimates cover second-
generation biofuels not only from forestry residues and
wood industry by-products, but also from lignocellulosic
agricultural residues such as straw. However, no
complementary fellings are considered here. In contrast
to REFUEL [32] the implementation potential given by
Siemons et al. [37] for the EU27 is much higher and
amounts to 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 EUJ/year in the years 2000,
2010 and 2020, respectively. These numbers cover
bioenergy derived from forest by-products and wood
3.51 Agricultural residues and organic waste
Results are currently not available. More detailed results
will be made available in the future.
This study also reveals that a large variety of
approaches and methodologies are used. Each approach
and methodology has specific (dis)advantages, which are
summarised in Table II. Statistical analyses only offer
very limited possibilities to account for environmental or
social needs as they only can be included via a general
reduction factor. This factor usually refers to the average
and thus cannot reflect specific local conditions. Static
spatially explicit analyses are more adequate to reflect a
biomass potential that is adapted to local or regional
circumstances which makes it much easier to take into
account environmental or social aspects. Here, different
layers containing relevant local soil, water and climate
information can be combined. Static spatially explicit
analyses, as statistical analyses, do not offer any
possibility to include feedback mechanisms, trade-offs
and synergies between the three sustainability
dimensions. Furthermore, it is not possible to adequately
account for the economic dimension. Several studies use
partial or complete equilibrium models to estimate the
contribution of biomass energy to the energy supply mix.
A key disadvantage of this type of studies is that the
results are not validated with data about the availability
and productivity of land for energy crop production.
Moreover, energy models are especially suitable to
investigate the costs and economic potential of biomass
energy in relation to other energy sources, but these
models do not allow estimates of the impacts on food and
fibre markets. For that, agricultural economics models
can be used, but these models typically are not linked
with energy models and energy crops that are currently
not produced on a large scale are usually not included.
In theory, integrated assessment model would be best
suited to include all different aspects and facets of
sustainability of biomass energy production, including all
relevant feedback mechanisms as well as synergies and
trade-offs. IAMs thereby allow for the use of multi-
dimensional scenarios, whereby a large variety of
assumptions for the different parameters (population
growth, economic growth, food consumption,
environmental policies, trade patterns etc.) are consistent.
Integrated assessment models combine bottom up data on
land use and productivities with energy models and
agricultural economics models. Two examples of this
type of models are the forest and agricultural sector
optimization (FASOM) model [26] and the Integrated
Model to Assess the Global Environment (IMAGE).
IAMs thereby provide an appropriate framework to
estimate the potential of biomass energy and the impacts
on agricultural markets and food security, GHG
emissions and land use. An important handicap is the
complexity of these models, which makes these models
relatively untransparent, expensive to develop and user
unfriendly in operation. Moreover, it has to be taken into
account that with the integration of separate models,
uncertainties due to data gaps or insufficient modelling
will be transferred to the IAM.
Further, the review of 28 biomass resource
assessments has also shown that sustainability aspects
only inadequately are taken into account in existing
biomass potential assessments. There is no study that
includes all three dimensions of sustainability
(environmental, social, and economic) nor is there a
study that covers all relevant aspects of one dimension.
Generally, environmental factors are overrepresented
whereas social and economic aspects are taken into
account far less frequently. Regarding the environmental
dimension, biodiversity and climate aspects are included
more often than soil and water aspects. Regarding the
social dimension, many studies account for the
competition of biomass and land with food which always
is given priority. Although many studies assess economic
aspects, only few calculate the impact of bioenergy
production on crop and food prices by integrating
bioenergy production in the whole market system.
Table II. The advantages and disadvantages of different
methodologies used in existing biomass resource
Methodology Disadvantages Advantages
analysis No economic mechanisms,
no spatially explicit
information, no integration,
based on crude assumptions,
sometimes inaccurate
Simple, transparent,
cheap, data are easily
No economic mechanisms,
no integration, complex tool Spatially explicit,
transparent, based on
data on land use and
climate, soil
analysis No economic mechanisms,
no integration Cheap, transparent
No integration with other
markets (agricultural
markets), not spatially
explicit, no integration, no
validation based on bottom-
up data on land use and
climate, soil characteristics,
mechanisms are
Complex, untransparent,
expensive, results are
difficult to interpret, model
is user unfriendly, level of
details is limited
spatially explicit
The Biomass Energy Europe (BEE) project is funded by
the European Commission under the Framework
Programme 7 within the "Energy Thematic Area". More
information about the BEE project can be found on
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FELIS - Department of Remote Sensing and
Landscape Information Systems, University of
Freiburg, Tennenbacher Str. 4, D-79085 Freiburg,
... Primary resources are direct products of photosynthesis taken directly from the land such as forest trees and residue from forest operations, short rotation woody crops including willow (Salix) and poplar (Populus), dedicated herbaceous energy crops like miscanthus (Miscanthus Andersson) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), agricultural crops like corn (Zea mays) and soya beans (Glycine max) and algae, for example, the giant brown kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Secondary resources result from the physical, chemical or biological processing of primary resources, examples of which are wood shavings, black liquor and manure respectively; examples of tertiary resources that arise after consumption include animal fat and greases, vegetable oils, packaging and paper waste, and construction and demolition debris (Smeets et al. 2009). In Canada, biomass is mainly sourced from forestry operations and, to a lesser extent, agricultural operations. ...
... Modern technologies have provided a renewed impetus for using biomass and large potentials and benefits have been claimed. However, many of these claims rely on untested assumptions and may breach biophysical limits (eg Smeets et al 2009;Pearman 2013) or create further sustainability challenges. Sustainability is therefore a critical issue for the bioenergy industry internationally. ...
... Approaches assessing biomass resource potential differ markedly (Smeets et al., 2009). In this manuscript we use the staged approach outlined in Herr et al., which starts with a top-down assessment of theoretical biomass production potential, then applies technical and environmental constraints, followed by social and economic constraints. ...
Identifying the location and amount of grain crop residues (stubble) in Australia is necessary for determining the viability of potential biofuel plant locations. We combined 22 years of crop statistics with harvest indices and land use to arrive at spatially explicit stubble productivity figures. Stubble quantities using different focal radii and from different seasons provide an insight into the feasibility of its use for bioenergy. We focus on areas where the stubble concentrations within a 50 km radius were at least 500 kt per year; the amount suggested for a viable lignocellolosic bioethanol facility. The outcome of this study has been to show, for the first time, where there are large amounts of stubble in Australia. Whether the supply of stubble is sufficiently constant over time and indeed available at a price that is economic for a biofuel plant must be subject to future work.
... Generally, assessments of bioenergy potentials focus largely on environmental factors whereas social aspects are taken into account far less frequently. Within the environmental dimension, biodiversity and climate aspects are overrepresented while soil and water aspects are often omitted (Smeets et al., 2009). With respect to these observations this study tries to extend the scope to social aspects as well as to the effects on soil and water. ...
Full-text available
The energy potential of agricultural residues in Tanzania has so far not been evaluated and quantified sufficiently. Moreover, the scientific basis for estimations of the sustainable potential of wastes and residues is still very limited. This paper presents an attempt to evaluate the theoretical and technical potential of residues from the sisal sector in Tanzania with regards to energy recovery through anaerobic digestion. The characteristics and availability of sisal residues are defined and a set of sustainability indicators with particular focus on environmental and socio-economic criteria is applied. Our analysis shows that electricity generation with sisal residues can be sustainable and have positive effects on the sustainability of sisal production itself. All sisal residues combined have an annual maximum electricity potential of 102 GW h in 2009, corresponding to up to 18.6 MW of potential electric capacity installations. This estimated maximum potential is equivalent to about 3% of the country's current power production. Utilizing these residues could contribute to meeting the growing electricity demand and offers an opportunity for decentralized electricity production in Tanzania.
... The major sources of variation and uncertainty for global and country-specific assessments are many. Different types of potential (theoretical, technical, environmental, economic, implementation) are estimated in different studies, and the type of potential is usually not explicitly defined (Smeets et al., 2009). Other major sources of variation include the age of the study (early studies scoping the broad theoretical or upper technical limits are quickly eclipsed by further studies imposing various constraints); nomenclature and classification of biomass and land-use types; the type of modelling approach; and the assumptions and scenarios (Dornburg et al., 2008;Rettenmaier et al., 2008). ...
We provide a quantitative assessment of the prospects for current and future biomass feedstocks for bioenergy in Australia, and associated estimates of the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation resulting from their use for production of biofuels or bioelectricity. National statistics were used to estimate current annual production from agricultural and forest production systems. Crop residues were estimated from grain production and harvest index. Wood production statistics and spatial modelling of forest growth were used to estimate quantities of pulpwood, in-forest residues, and wood processing residues. Possible new production systems for oil from algae and the oil-seed tree Pongamia pinnata, and of lignocellulosic biomass production from short-rotation coppiced eucalypt crops were also examined. The following constraints were applied to biomass production and use: avoiding clearing of native vegetation; minimizing impacts on domestic food security; retaining a portion of agricultural and forest residues to protect soil; and minimizing the impact on local processing industries by diverting only the export fraction of grains or pulpwood to bioenergy. We estimated that it would be physically possible to produce 9.6 GL yr−1 of first generation ethanol from current production systems, replacing 6.5 GL yr−1 of gasoline or 34% of current gasoline usage. Current production systems for waste oil, tallow and canola seed could produce 0.9 GL yr−1 of biodiesel, or 4% of current diesel usage. Cellulosic biomass from current agricultural and forestry production systems (including biomass from hardwood plantations maturing by 2030) could produce 9.5 GL yr−1 of ethanol, replacing 6.4 GL yr−1 of gasoline, or ca. 34% of current consumption. The same lignocellulosic sources could instead provide 35 TWh yr−1, or ca. 15% of current electricity production. New production systems using algae and P. pinnata could produce ca. 3.96 and 0.9 GL biodiesel yr−1, respectively. In combination, they could replace 4.2 GL yr−1 of fossil diesel, or 23% of current usage. Short-rotation coppiced eucalypt crops could provide 4.3 GL yr−1 of ethanol (2.9 GL yr−1 replacement, or 15% of current gasoline use) or 20.2 TWh yr−1 of electricity (9% of current generation). In total, first and second generation fuels from current and new production systems could mitigate 26 Mt CO2-e, which is 38% of road transport emissions and 5% of the national emissions. Second generation fuels from current and new production systems could mitigate 13 Mt CO2-e, which is 19% of road transport emissions and 2.4% of the national emissions lignocellulose from current and new production systems could mitigate 48 Mt CO2-e, which is 28% of electricity emissions and 9% of the national emissions. There are challenging sustainability issues to consider in the production of large amounts of feedstock for bioenergy in Australia. Bioenergy production can have either positive or negative impacts. Although only the export fraction of grains and sugar was used to estimate first generation biofuels so that domestic food security was not affected, it would have an impact on food supply elsewhere. Environmental impacts on soil, water and biodiversity can be significant because of the large land base involved, and the likely use of intensive harvest regimes. These require careful management. Social impacts could be significant if there were to be large-scale change in land use or management. In addition, although the economic considerations of feedstock production were not covered in this article, they will be the ultimate drivers of industry development. They are uncertain and are highly dependent on government policies (e.g. the price on carbon, GHG mitigation and renewable energy targets, mandates for renewable fuels), the price of fossil oil, and the scale of the industry.
... If the energy generation with process residues aims to be environmentally sustainable, these factors need to be taken into consideration. Assessments of bioenergy potentials often focus on the environmental factors biodiversity and climate while soil and water aspects are often omitted [49]. With respect to these observations this study tries to extend the scope to the effects on soil and water. ...
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This paper attempts to assess whether renewable energy self-sufficiency can be achieved in the crop production and processing sector in Tanzania and if this could be accomplished in an environmentally sustainable manner. In order to answer these questions the theoretical energy potential of process residues from commercially produced agricultural crops in Tanzania is evaluated. Furthermore, a set of sustainability indicators with focus on environmental criteria is applied to identify risks and opportunities of using these residues for energy generation. In particular, the positive and negative effects on the land-use-system (soil fertility, water use and quality, biodiversity, etc .) are evaluated. The results show that energy generation with certain agricultural process residues could not only improve and secure the energy supply but could also improve the sustainability of current land-use practices.
... Estimates for the more densely populated Germany show a potential of only 0.24 billion tons [2,39]. How much biomass is actually available for various applications is a matter for discussion and research [39,40]. ...
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The results of assessment of energy potentials of forest and agricultural biomass are presented in the book. Study was made in a framework of FP�7 project “Biomass Energy Europe” (Grant Agreement №213417). For researchers and specialists in energy, forestry, natural protection and students studying forestry, ecology, biology and technical sciences.
Grasses could provide an alternative to the use of food crops for biofuel production. Australia has large areas of non‐crop land that already produce grasses. However, there is currently no detailed assessment of Australia's grass production potential for bioenergy or carbon management. This paper provides an overview of grass production potential in Australia. Our approach is based on modeling native grass pastures net primary production (NPP) at a broad scale using the AussieGRASS NPP model. We assess the technical production potential of grasses for the whole of Australia; and, after excluding unsuitable production areas examine the bioenergy feedstock potential in seven regions around Australia. The paper identifies areas for grass feedstock production outside existing cropping and hay production areas. The analysis highlights areas of high production in north‐east Australia around the Tropic of Capricorn. The non‐cleared land in this extensive agricultural zone shows a promising technical production potential (266 Mt y−1) and if 15% of this land's NPP were to be transformed into ethanol, it could replace a significant part (54%) of current Australian petrol demand. We subsequently discuss these modeling results to identify areas for further improvement and future development for this approach that would produce a more robust spatial grass feedstock assessment. The paper investigates only a set of technical constraints for grass production. There will be many other constraints to consider, e.g. competing uses for grass resources from crop and animal production, and conservation needs, which will reduce the possible off‐take of grasses for energy. © 2012 Commonwealth of Australia
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The carbonization of biomass residuals to char has strong potential to become an environmentally sound conversion process for the production of a wide variety of products. In addition to its traditional use for the production of charcoal and other energy vectors, pyrolysis can produce products for environmental, catalytic, electronic and agricultural applications. As an alternative to dry pyrolysis, the wet pyrolysis process, also known as hydrothermal carbonization, opens up the field of potential feedstocks for char production to a range of nontraditional renewable and plentiful wet agricultural residues and municipal wastes. Its chemistry offers huge potential to influence product characteristics on demand, and produce designer carbon materials. Future uses of these hydrochars may range from innovative materials to soil amelioration, nutrient conservation via intelligent waste stream management and the increase of carbon stock in degraded soils.
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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are both strongly committed to expanding the role of biomass as an energy source. In particular, they support biomass fuels and products as a way to reduce the need for oil and gas imports; to support the growth of agriculture, forestry, and rural economies; and to foster major new domestic industries-- biorefineries--making a variety of fuels, chemicals, and other products. As part of this effort, the Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee, a panel established by the Congress to guide the future direction of federally funded biomass R&D, envisioned a 30 percent replacement of the current U.S. petroleum consumption with biofuels by 2030. Biomass--all plant and plant-derived materials including animal manure, not just starch, sugar, oil crops already used for food and energy--has great potential to provide renewable energy for America s future. Biomass recently surpassed hydropower as the largest domestic source of renewable energy and currently provides over 3 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States. In addition to the many benefits common to renewable energy, biomass is particularly attractive because it is the only current renewable source of liquid transportation fuel. This, of course, makes it invaluable in reducing oil imports--one of our most pressing energy needs. A key question, however, is how large a role could biomass play in responding to the nation's energy demands. Assuming that economic and financial policies and advances in conversion technologies make biomass fuels and products more economically viable, could the biorefinery industry be large enough to have a significant impact on energy supply and oil imports? Any and all contributions are certainly needed, but would the biomass potential be sufficiently large to justify the necessary capital replacements in the fuels and automobile sectors?
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An ultimate limit on the extent that biomass fuels can be used to dis-place fossil transportation fuels, and their associated emissions of CO 2 , will be the land area available to produce the fuels and the efficiencies by which solar radiation can be converted to useable fuels. Currently, the Brazil cane-ethanol system captures 33% of the primary energy content in harvested cane in the form of ethanol. The US corn-ethanol system captures 54% of the primary energy of harvested corn kernels in the form of ethanol. If ethanol is used to substitute for gasoline, avoided fossil fuel CO 2 emissions would equal those of the substituted amount minus fossil emissions incurred in producing the cane-or corn-ethanol. In this case, avoided emissions are estimated to be 29% of harvested cane and 14% of harvested corn primary energy. Un-less these efficiencies are substantially improved, the displacement of CO 2 emissions from transportation fuels in the United States is unlikely to reach 10% using domestic biofuels. Candidate technologies for improving these efficiencies include fermentation of cellulosic biomass and conversion of biomass into electricity, hydrogen, or alcohols for use in electric drive-train vehicles.
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On the basis of the IPCC B2, A1b and B1 baseline scenarios, mitigation scenarios were developed that stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at 650, 550 and 450 and – subject to specific assumptions – 400ppm CO2-eq. The analysis takes into account a large number of reduction options, such as reductions of non-CO2 gases, carbon plantations and measures in the energy system. The study shows stabilization as low as 450ppm CO2-eq. to be technically feasible, even given relatively high baseline scenarios. To achieve these lower concentration levels, global emissions need to peak within the first two decades. The net present value of abatement costs for the B2 baseline scenario (a medium scenario) increases from 0.2% of cumulative GDP to 1.1% as the shift is made from 650 to 450ppm. On the other hand, the probability of meeting a two-degree target increases from 0%–10% to 20%–70%. The mitigation scenarios lead to lower emissions of regional air pollutants but also to increased land use. The uncertainty in the cost estimates is at least in the order of 50%, with the most important uncertainties including land-use emissions, the potential for bio-energy and the contribution of energy efficiency. Furthermore, creating the right socio-economic and political conditions for mitigation is more important than any of the technical constraints.
Energy crops currently contribute a relatively small proportion to the total energy produced from biomass each year, but the proportion is set to grow over the next few decades. This paper reviews the current status of energy crops and their conversion technologies, assesses their potential to contribute to global energy demand and climate mitigation over the next few decades, and examines the future prospects. Previous estimates have suggested a technical potential for energy crops of?400?EJ?yr?1 by 2050. In a new analysis based on energy crop areas for each of the IPCC SRES scenarios in 2025 (as projected by the IMAGE 2.2 integrated assessment model), more conservative dry matter and energy yield estimates and an assessment of the impact on non-CO2 greenhouse gases were used to estimate the realistically achievable potential for energy crops by 2025 to be between 2 and 22?EJ?yr?1, which will offset?100-2070?Mt?CO2-eq.?yr?1. These results suggest that additional production of energy crops alone is not sufficient to reduce emissions to meet a 550??mol?mol?1 atmospheric CO2 stabilization trajectory, but is sufficient to form an important component in a portfolio of climate mitigation measures, as well as to provide a significant sustainable energy resource to displace fossil fuel resources. Realizing the potential of energy crops will necessitate optimizing the dry matter and energy yield of these crops per area of land through the latest biotechnological routes, with or without the need for genetic modification. In future, the co-benefits of bioenergy production will need to be optimized and methods will need to be developed to extract and refine high-value products from the feedstock before it is used for energy production.
The oil and gas resources of the Middle East and North Africa will be critical to meeting the world's growing appetite for energy. But there is considerable uncertainty about the pace at which investment in the region's upstream industry will actually occur, how quickly production capacity will expand and, given rising domestic energy needs, how much of the expected increase in supply will be available for export. In this article, Fatih Birol summarizes the main findings of the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2005: Middle East and North Africa Insights.
This report examines the implications for agriculture of the ongoing but inconclusive debate about global climate change. In that debate, agriculture's role is multifaceted. Agriculture is both a source of several greenhouse gases (GHGs) and a "sink" for absorbing carbon dioxide, the most common GHG, thereby partly offsetting emissions. Overall, agriculture is a comparatively modest source of U.S. GHG emissions: it accounts for approximately 7% of U.S. emissions, while sectors such as transportation and electricity generation account for much larger shares. Agriculture's GHG emissions are principally in the form of methane and nitrous oxides emissions.Whatever the current or future Congresses may do regarding climate legislation, interest in existing and prospective responses by government and others will continue. Administration efforts to develop policies and strategies to address GHGs and climate change have been underway for some time. Two actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have drawn the attention of the agriculture industry. One is regulating emissions of GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and subsequent GHG emission standards for new motor vehicles which, in turn, trigger certain CAA permitting requirements. A second, related action is a rule to require reporting of GHG emissions by certain facilities. Regarding both, EPA took steps to focus on the largest emitters and ensure that few agricultural sources would be subject to new GHG requirements. Still, EPA's overall initiatives have been widely criticized, and the 111th Congress intervened through a funding bill to largely exclude agriculture from EPA's regulatory requirements. During the 111th Congress, the House passed a comprehensive climate change bill (H.R. 2454), and a Senate committee reported a companion (S. 1733). Although no legislation was enacted, both bills included provisions excluding agriculture from regulatory requirements and promoting agricultural practices to reduce or offset emissions from regulated sources.Traditionally, practices such as conservation tillage have been used for soil conservation and water quality improvement, but their value for climate change abatement or mitigation is receiving increased attention. A number of strategies, technologies, and practices exist to reduce methane and nitrous oxides emissions at the farm level, but implementation faces financial and monitoring challenges.Programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide financial incentives and technical assistance to encourage implementation of certain farming practices. While the focus of most programs is not on GHG emission reduction, USDA is giving greater attention to GHGs in administering its suite of existing programs.Results of the 2010 congressional elections have altered political dynamics in Congress on many issues, and leadership of both political parties have indicated that neither currently plans to pursue comprehensive approaches to addressing climate change in the 112th Congress, although some elements of previous proposals may move through the legislative process. How agriculture fits in these discussions-both as a source of GHG emissions and contributions that the sector can make to mitigating climate change-has drawn interest in the past and likely will do so again.
Increasing the use of renewable energies offers significant opportunities for Europe to reduce greenhouse as emissions and secure its energy supply. However, the substantial rise in the use of biomass from riculture, forestry and waste for producing energy might put additional pressure on farmland and forest biodiversity as well as on soil and water resources. It may also counteract other current and potential future environmental policies and objectives, such as waste minimisation or environmentally-oriented farming. The purpose of this report is to assess how much biomass could technically be available for energy production without increasing pressures on the environment. As such, it develops a number of environmental criteria for bioenergy production, which are then used as assumptions for modeling the primary potential. These criteria were developed on a European scale. Complementary assessments at more regional and local scale are recommended as a follow-up of this work. Further analysis is also needed to take into account the impacts of climate change on the availability of bioenergy, which was beyond the scope of this study. The scenarios used for each of the sectors (agriculture, forestry and waste) use a common set of general assumptions and projections from the EEA report European environment outlook. These include a further liberalisation of agricultural markets. It was also assumed that the EU would reach future greenhouse gas emission reductions of 40 % below 1990 levels in 2030, resulting in an increasing carbon permit price. Furthermore, the scenario storylines have additional implications, such as an increase in wood demand. The present study supplements these projections in order to take into account environmental assumptions (see box). The study concludes that significant amounts of biomass can technically be available to support ambitious renewable energy targets, even if strict environmental constraints are applied. The environmentally-compatible primary biomass potential increases from around 190 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MtOE) in 2010 to around 295 MtOE in 2030. This compares to a use of 69 MtOE in 2003 (of which the environmentally-compatible part is included in the 295 MtOE). The potential is sufficient to reach the European renewable energy target in 2010, which requires an estimated 150 MtOE of biomass use. It also allows ambitious future renewable energy targets beyond 2010. The bioenergy potential in 2030 represents around 15–16 % of the projected primary energy requirements of the EU-25 in 2030, and 17 % of the current energy consumption, compared to a 4 % share of bioenergy in 2003. This study does not analyse the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be avoided through the exploitation of the environmentallycompatible potential. This strongly depends on the way in which iomass is converted into heat, electricity, and transport fuels and which fossil fuels are replaced. Nevertheless, a rough estimate indicates that the use of the entire potential calculated in this study saves direct greenhouse emissions in the range of 400 to more than 600 Mt CO2 in 2030 (part of this are already realized by today's bioenergy use). The avoided life-cycle emissions will be lower as some emissions occur during the production of biomass through e.g. the production of fertilizers. A detailed analysis of the avoided greenhouse gas emissions would be useful in completing the environmental assessment of different bioenergy production options. The main factors driving the increase in bioenergy potential are productivity increases and the assumed liberalisation of the agricultural sector, which results in additional area available for dedicated bioenergy farming. Furthermore, with an increase in carbon prices together with high fossil fuel prices, bioenergy feedstock becomes competitive over time compared with traditional wood industries or food crops. Nevertheless, this study made some value judgments which limit the available potential, including the assumption that bioenergy crops should not be grown at the expense of food crops for domestic food supply. Many of the strict environmental assumptions also act to reduce the available potential. Overall, the outcome of this study can therefore be seen as a conservative estimate of the technically available environmentallycompatible bioenergy potential in Europe. However, unless the correct incentives and safeguards are in place to mobilise the potential in an environmentally-friendly way, even a significantly lower exploitation of the biomass resource than projected could lead to increased environmental pressures. To ensure that bioenergy production develops in an environmentally- compatible way and to further explore co-benefits with nature conservation, environmental guidelines need to become an integral part of planning processes at the local, national and European level. The national Biomass Action Plans (as proposed in the recent EU Biomass Action Plan) could be a first step in this direction. Furthermore, wider involvement of European society in stakeholder participation processes (i.e. from policy makers, local governments, to businesses, researchers, NGOs and consumers) could help to enable bioenergy production to fulfil its 'green potential'. An appropriate policy framework, combined with advice and guidance to bioenergy planners, farmers and forest owners on environmental considerations, needs to be in place to steer bioenergy production in the right direction. In the short-term, the largest potential for bioenergy comes from the waste sector with around 100 MtOE. This remains more or less constant over the time horizon (96 MtOE in 2030) due to environmental considerations, in particular the assumed reduction of household waste generation and the reduction in the black liquor potential. In 2030, the impact of these environmental considerations reduces the biowaste resource by about 18 % compared to a business-as-usual scenario. The main biowaste streams contributing to this potential are solid agricultural residues (e.g. straw), wet manures, wood processing residues, the biodegradable part of municipal solid waste and black liquor from the pulp and paper industry. At country level, Germany and France have by far the largest potential for bioenergy from waste. Their combined potential level accounts for about onethird of the EU-25 total. Other countries with large populations and land area also have significant resources (such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland). Sweden and Finland possess significant resources due to the availability of black liquor from the pulp and paper industry. This potential might, however, decline over time, as a result of a decrease in pulp and paper production. This might happen if more wood is directed from pulp and paper to energy production as a result of higher energy and carbon permit prices. In the long-term, bioenergy crops from agriculture provide the largest potential. This development will be driven by: additional productivity increases; further liberalisation of agricultural markets; and the introduction of high-yield bioenergy crops. the environmentally-compatible bioenergy potential from agriculture can reach up to 142 MtOE by 2030, compared to 47 MtOE in 2010. About 85 % of the potential is to be found in only seven Member States (Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Lithuania and Poland). This potential is contingent upon assumptions regarding the farmland area available for bioenergy crop production and the yield of the assumed bioenergy crops. The area assumed to be available for bioenergy production comprises the areas that are released from food and fodder production (as a consequence of a further reform of the common agricultural policy and productivity increases) and set-aside areas. In addition, as the energy value of bioenergy crops is assumed to reach or exceed food commodity prices towards 2030, some land area that is projected to be used for producing export surplus might become available for bioenergy production (1). In order to prevent increased environmental pressure from the agricultural sector due to more intensive farming, this study assumed that there will be a high share of environmentally-oriented farming with lower crop yields. While increasing bioenergy production might provide incentives to transform extensively used grassland into arable land, ploughing up these permanent grasslands would lead to a loss of their high biodiversity value and a release of soil carbon. Thus, the almost 6 million ha of released permanent rassland (as well as parts of the olive grove and 'dehesa' area) were assumed to be excluded from dedicated bioenergy production in 2030. Overall, the available environmentallycompatible arable land area will rise by 50 % over the time period to reach 19 million ha in 2030. Crops dedicated to bioenergy production differ from conventional food and fodder crops as they are optimised for their energy content rather than for food production. Innovative bioenergy crops (such as perennials) and cropping systems (such as double cropping) can thus in some cases add to crop diversity and combine a high yield with lower environmental pressures, when compared to intensive food farming systems. They are assumed to be introduced rapidly only after 2010 in this study in order to allow for a 'transition period' from conventional farming systems. As the energy yield from these crops is usually above that of conventional bioenergy crops, they contribute to the rising agricultural bioenergy potential beyond 2010. In addition, such a trend also benefits the environment, as perennial bioenergy crops and short rotation forestry generally have less impact on: soil erosion and compaction, nutrient inputs into ground and surface water, pesticide pollution, and water abstraction. The environmentally-compatible bioenergy potential from forestry is estimated to be almost constant at around 40 MtOE throughout the period analysed. An additional potential of more than 16 MtOE is released from competing industries by 2030 as a result of increasing energy and CO2 permit prices. These will increase the market value of energy wood over time. At the same time, this effect reduces the black liquor potential by 6 MtOE due to reduced production of pulp and paper. Without increasing prices paid for bioenergy, the forestry bioenergy potential is determined by the demand for stem wood. With stem wood demand projected to increase over time, the amount of residues will rise. at the same time, complementary fellings will fall due to the increase in the harvest needed to satisfy stem food demand. Countries with the highest potential for bioenergy from forestry residues include Sweden and Finland, due to the high proportion of forest area. The potential in these countries increases even further if ash recycling is assumed. A high potential for increased fellings was found for central Europe, Italy, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. These figures take into account the important environmental functions of forest residues and deadwood, and therefore lie around 40 % below the unconstrained maximum potential. If the effects of fertilisation through ash recycling and nitrogen deposition are taken into account, the potential rises by around 3 MtOE. While environmental considerations in most cases restrict the technically available amount of biomass from waste, agriculture and forestry, there can also be co-benefits between biomass production and nature conservation. This study indicates that an increasing demand for bioenergy may create new uses for currently uneconomic outputs of extensive agriculture or forest residues. For example, using grass cuttings could support the management of species-rich grasslands, which otherwise would be at the risk of being abandoned. Also, forest management and the removal of residues could contribute to reducing fire risk, especially in forests that are currently unmanaged. This is particularly important for southern Europe. New bioenergy cropping systems and perennials might also add diversity and require less pesticide or fertiliser input than in current intensive agricultural systems. The introduction of a wider range of crops and new technologies which use cellulose from grass biomass or 0ther feedstock can further promote crop diversification.