Access to sustainable biomass feedstocks

The availability of feedstock for use in the bioeconomy is limited by several factors. Policy and other constraints around land use are limiting crop production for energy, and other sources of biomass are held back by a diverse set of technical and regulatory barriers.

Europe has a significant mass of agricultural and forest land, and significant streams of organic waste, that can provide biomass feedstocks. Abandoned farmland alone constitutes 50 million hectares in Europe and the number is increasing for every year. This land provides a great opportunity to produce more sustainable feedstock. 

But the availability of this feedstock for use in the bioeconomy is limited by several factors. Policy constraints, like the 7% cap on first-generation biofuels and stricter emission reduction requirements for biofuels than for electric vehicles, are limiting agricultural feedstock production for energy and other uses. 

Other sources of biomass are held back by barriers including lack of scale, insufficient investment, high unit cost, and technical immaturity. Lastly, the physical characteristics of biomass creates costs and complexity relative to other feedstocks.

The challenge: How might we overcome policy and land use constraints to strengthen access to sustainable biomass in areas where there is already sufficient demand?

Concept 1. A green revolution in farming: A partnership between industry and farmers to increase feedstock production, while securing additional benefits for the environment.

Concept 2. Seeing and believing high-sustainability feedstocks: Demonstrate high greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions from European forestry and waste-derived feedstocks.