Backqround and description of the problem
The use of bioenergy is widely considered as an important option for reduction of CO2 emissions. However, preliminary calculations show that the environmental effectiveness and the cost-effectiveness of indigenous biomaterials (wood etc.) is higher if they substitute materials such as concrete, plastics and tropical hardwood.
Replacement of fossil fuel based materials with biomass based materials will have a dual effect: CO2 emission reduction in materials production and renewable energy beyond the product use phase, if the waste material is used for energy recovery. Natural organic materials can be used to store carbon in long life products like buildings. On the long run, biomaterials may prove to be a better strategy than bioenergy because of the wide range of options that is available to mitigate CO2 emissions from electricity production. Moreover, production of biomaterials results in residuals that can be used for energy recovery. Apart from timber for structural applications, biomass crops can be used for fibre production and as feedstock material for production of chemicals, bio-polymers, textiles etc..
Because biomass supply is limited by the availability of land, biomass use must be optimised in order to achieve CO2 emission reduction at minimised costs. An integrated approach for energy and materials is required to provide more insight into the cost-effective biomass use for European countries and regions.
The objective of this study is to assess the potential of biomass in Westemrn Europe as a substitute for other materials and feedstocks in manufacturing and as a substitute for fossil fuels in energy production. The second goal is to identify the most cost-effective applications and cascades of applications of biomass to reduce CO2 emissions from material and energy production. Based on these analyses, the most prospective fields to apply biomass will be identified. Integrated strategies and policy recommendations will be formulated for energy crops, material crops and other CO2 emission reduction options.
Integrated life cycle analysis of biomass for both energy and materials applications within CO2 emission reduction is a new approach. Competition of and interaction with other emission reduction options is taken into account. Long-term system dynamics are considered (e.g. characteristics of competing technologies or product demand will change, biomaterials are released beyond the product life). The whole life cycle of materials and products will be considered. The trade-off between costs and CO2 benefits will be explicitly addressed.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts