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5 years ago

BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

1 Goals, target groups

1 Goals, target groups and general information Background The issue of bioenergy production has been discussed within the European Union over a number of years now under various different aspects, ranging from environmental questions to socio-economic ones. The public debate over issues such as the greenhouse effect, ozone layer depletion, acidification etc. led to various international agreements, as for example the Agenda 21 and the Kyoto Protocol, for the expressed purpose of decreasing global environmental impacts in general and greenhouse gas emissions in particular. In its White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan “Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy” (European Commission 1997), the European Commission expressed its intention to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by aiming for a 12 % share of renewable energies compared to total energy consumption until the year 2010. Strategies for achieving this objective outlined in the White Paper stress the importance of biomass, which is likely to contribute most to an overall CO2-reduction (Table 1-1). Table 1-1 Estimated CO2-reduction until 2010 (European Commission 1997) Biomass Wind Small hydropower Solar energy Geothermal Photovoltaic Total Mio t/a 255 72 48 19 5 3 402 Percentage 63 % 18 % 12 % 5 % 1 % 1 % 100 % Apart from environmental aspects, there are also socio-economic and political aspects to the production of bioenergy, especially with regard to agriculture. Under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) it has been agreed to curb surplus production of food within the Community by means of obligatory set-aside land. In this context the production of energy crops on such land can arguably help to maintain otherwise declining farm income. In the light of these issues, many individual research projects have been carried out concerning the environmental consequences of increased bioenergy production and utilisation at national level, such as Biewenga and van der Bijl (The Netherlands 1996), Wolfensberger and Dinkel (Switzerland 1997) and Reinhardt and Zemanek (Germany 2000). What has been lacking so far however is a comprehensive international investigation of the effects of large scale bioenergy generation within the European Community considering recent ISO 14040 – 14043 standards on environmental life cycle assessment. Furthermore, in order to implement a large scale promotion of bioenergy throughout Europe, it is necessary to establish first of all the economic as well as ecological costs and benefits involved, and secondly, to identify which sources of bioenergy, if any, are the most beneficial ones and the production of which ones is most feasible in each country. Goals of the study The present project provides – for the first time – a high quality decision base regarding the environmental effects of the production and utilisation of biofuels in Europe. It is designed to: • show the environmental advantages and disadvantages of the different biofuels in the various countries involved and the EU, compared to corresponding fossil fuels by means of life cycle analyses • make comparisons between biofuels within each country and the EU • make comparisons between countries and the EU for each biofuel • point out the most favourable biofuels in each country and the European Union respectively, with the help of life cycle analyses and a socio-economic and political analysis

Bioenergy Update 10-02 - General*Bioenergy
Maximising the environmental benefits of Europe's bioenergy potential
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