Context and main objectives
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 a little over 10% today, to 20% by 2020) and a considerable increase of the share of biofuelsin the transport sector, with a target of 10% of vehicle fuel by 2020.
To achieve this increase it is envisaged in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans, which have been compiled by the 27 EU countries, that the energy generated from biomass will nearly double to 2020. Although the relative importance of biomass in the renewables sector is expected tp decrease slightly from about two thirds, it will nevertheless continue to play a very important role within the renewable sector.
Reliable knowledge of the biomass potentials for energy in Europe is therefore essential. In order to achieve the challenging European policy targets in the renewable energy sector, basic information is needed for both policy and industry. However, assessments of the biomass resource potential for energy for the same geographical entity differ largely from each other.
Within this context, the Biomass Energy Europe (BEE) project was initiated to harmonise methodologies for biomass resource assessments for energy purposes in Europe and its neighbouring countries. The harmonisation improves consistency, accuracy and reliability of biomass assessments for energy, which can serve the planning of a transition to renewable energy in the European Union.
The major focus of the project was on methodological and dataset harmonisations fostered by ongoing research of a multidisciplinary team of project participants, as well as the opportunities of utilising both earth observation and terrestrial data for biomass assessments and the integration of multiple data sources. The relevant sectors investigated were forestry, energy crops, residues from traditional agriculture and waste.
The BEE project was funded by the European Commission under the Framework Programme 7 within the "Energy Thematic Area" and contributes to "Harmonisation of biomass resource assessment" activities. The project was carried out during 2008 - 2010.
The overall objective of the BEE project was to improve the accuracy and comparability of future biomass resource assessments for energy by reducing heterogeneity, increasing harmonisation and exchanging knowledge.
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, was subject to that harmonisation. Relevant methodologies and data issues per major estimation steps for each biomass category were analysed for improvement and harmonisation potential.
The work in the Biomass Energy Europe project was structured into 7 work packages (WPs). Two work packages ran from the beginning until the end of the project: WP1 Project Management and WP2 Dissemination and Networking. Since dissemination, the coordination of R&D and networking are closely linked, they were managed within one work package,and, since these activities were of essential importance in this project, a separate work package was devoted to this significant activity.
Work packages 3 to 7 focused on a specific topic of thematic work and constitute a logical working sequence.
Within the working sequence of the BEE project, the first work package, WP3 Status of Biomass Resource Assessments, covered two major pillars: (i) the assessment and analysis of the policy background and the requirements of the users of the information from resource assessments and (ii) a comparative analysis of existing biomass resource assessments at the global, European, regional, and national scale, with the aim of analysing the heterogeneity of the results, methodologies and data sources used.
In WP4 Analysis of Biomass Resource Assessments, the methodologies and datasets used in major studies identified in WP3 were analysed in order to identify common approaches, as well as important differences.
In WP5 Harmonisation of Biomass Resource Assessments, elements of a harmonised methodology were identified based on common methodological discussions, together with the identification and specification of data requirements.
In WP6 Illustration Cases, elements of the harmonised methodology were applied in resource assessments on a Pan-European scale with a focus on EU-27, accompanied by single resource assessments at the national level to illustrate the feasibility of the developed approach.
The last WP of the sequence is WP7 Integration, Evaluation and Recommendation, where achievements were synthesised, summarised and critically reviewed, and recommendations for future improvements were identified and prioritised.