The greenGain Biomass Assessment: revealing the hidden potentials of biomass from landscape conservation and maintenance work
In July 2016 the greenGain project partners finished the report on their assessment of the potential biomass amounts coming from landscape conservation and maintenance work (LCMW) in the four project regions. Deliverable 5.2 illustrates among other the applied methodology based on a bottom-up approach and shows for every LCMW type in the single project regions what potentials were calculated. The following article summarises the biomass assessment and presents an overview of the results.
The initial point for the biomass assessment carried out in the project was the estimation of the theoretical potential, which based on statistical databases, samplings, yield rates from other projects or references, etc. The project Biomass Energy Europe (BEE) on harmonization of biomass assessments defines: “The theoretical potential is the overall maximum amount of terrestrial biomass which can be considered theoretically available for bioenergy production within fundamental bio-physical limits”. However, theoretical potentials often do not give an accurate and realistic estimation about the biomass that is feasible to be obtained for production of energy. Therefore, potential constraints causing the theoretical potentials in the greenGain project regions to not be fully exploitable were quantified with a coefficient of reduction (CR), resulting in an assessed sustainable potential (Figure 1).
In practical terms, applying this methodology to each greenGain demo region required identification of available local data and close interaction with local actors. Thus, in a bottom-up approach the responsible greenGain partners:
- sought for local reliable inventories produced from field observation or local stakeholders inventories,
- assessed biomass production ratios coherent with the reality of the region obtained from the interaction/contact with local actors or through sampling to avoid generalization from national or European studies,
- identified in contact with local companies and authorities constraints for obtaining biomass with LCMW.
For the 11 LCMW biomass types which were assessed in the four project countries a wide range of amount and quality of sources and information was available. Accordingly, no single methodology was applied to all types, but rather the situations were assessed individually based on the existing knowledge and available input data.
The research and calculations for assessing the biomass potentials of the LCMW biomass types in the greenGain project regions led to the results presented in the following table:
Table 1: Overview of the results compiled in the greenGain biomass assessment (Deliverable 5.2).
The here shown sustainable potentials refer to fresh matter only. The biomass potential of the mixed feedstock types was not assessed separately for the woody and herbaceous fraction. This could not be done because the actually implemented LCMW produces these mixed feedstocks, and information on ratios and biomass properties from the local stakeholders accordingly apply to it. In the course of the now running pilot experiences the fractions will, when possible, be analysed separately.
The detailed calculations of the biomass assessments of the single feedstock types in the four project countries can be found in Deliverable 5.2. Further overviews on the results can also be found in the presentation “Feedstock: biomass from landscape conservation and maintenance work” by Daniel Garcia shown at the international greenGain conference in October 2016.
Assessing LCMW biomass in an area needs the interpretation of the specific characteristics and conditions of this territory and accounting with local inventories and singular biomass productivity ratios. Still, it was observed that even though the biomass assessments were done in different countries and regions, and were subject of different LCMW harvesting methods and different regulations, in all cases the sustainable potential is in average quite close to the theoretical. This shows that in many cases LCMW has no strong restricting factors hindering its performance.
Further, the analysis showed that biomass from LCMW is rather dispersed and its potential per unit of territory is usually much lower than biomass from agrarian or forestry areas. Still, LCMW biomass can be incorporated in both, local and large scale supply chains. The LCMW biomass cannot constitute by itself a main biomass source, however, by using specific business models the material can certainly be integrated in other supply chains and be part of integrated logistical solutions.
Authors: Aline Clalüna, COALS; Daniel García, CIRCE