Finally, a year-long project has come to end: I have established the bioenergy potentials for 32 European countries for implementation into the reegle map! I have calculated the technical and theoretical potentials for these countries in regard to solid biomass, liquid biofuel and biogas.
The study ‘Bioenergy Potentials in Europe’ is my diploma thesis marking the end of my time at TGM College for Renewable Energies and was made in cooperation with FH Technikum, University of Applied Science in Vienna.
My diploma thesis established the bioenergy potentials for Europe by individual country. Theoretical and technical potentials are calculated on the basis of available land for the growth of wood/ energy crops. The method of calculation has been based on the work of M. Kaltschmitt and can be considered a resource-focused approach. For the establishment of forest potentials national forest inventories have been used and area and increment as well as structure of national forests were crucial for calculations. While theoretical potentials allow the total annual increment to be calculated as available for energy proposes, the technical potentials take into account current use of increment in terms of harvest and material versus energy utilisation. In terms of energy crops, arable land was used as basis for calculations, and yields were decisive for potentials. While the theoretical potential describes the content of energy for crops cultivated on the entire arable land, for the technical potential only 10% of arable were assumed to be available for the cultivation of energy crops. Rye and rapeseed were calculated for the utilization as biofuel and biogas was evaluated as to be produced from sugarbeet. Those potentials can be regarded as secondary energy as they are directly available for use, whereas for solid biomass the potentials describe the primary energy content of wood from forestry, straw and miscanthus grass.
All calculations exploit the potentials to the limit of sustainability only. For example no virgin forests are to be energetically utilized, and growing stock will remain. Sensitive areas such as wet land are not considered for the cultivation of energy crops, and yields are calculated without irrigation.
My conclusion may surprise some. To begin with, it can be said that bioenergy will only be a valuable contribution in a mix of different renewable energy technologies. The calculated technical bioenergy potentials cannot cover primary consumption in a single European country; even if the potentials from forestry and one agricultural crop are added up, coverage remains low for most countries.
Most users of reegle services tend to spend most time on the map. Now users on http://www.reegle.info/map/ have the choice to select potentials: biofuel, biogas or biomass on the energy statistics & potentials Europe scroll-down menu. Once selected, a box on the right hand side gives an overview of potentials available in terms of energy crop, theoretical, technical or specific potential. The map corresponds by giving a coloured overview of Europe with each colour marking a certain range of potential energy. By clicking onto a country, detailed information appears onscreen. Again, the user is offered more information which appears as a pdf and shows all factors contributing to the calculation of potentials, such as yields, increments, heat value of the energy crop or the wood of national forest composition (depending on the ratio of coniferous and broadleaved trees) plus agricultural and forestry areas for each country. For those wishing to find out everything about the calculations undertaken, there is a link (“source”) on the right hand side connecting you to my complete diploma thesis. Eventually, the reegle map will offer this service for potentials of all renewable energies around the whole world!
Summing up the findings of this study, further research into bioenergy utilisation and construction of new power stations as well as an extension of existing plants and distribution systems form an indispensable part in the global transition towards a low-carbon society. The reegle map with this newly implemented feature is a valuable tool to encourage the necessary steps and will help bring about useful policies to accelerate the modern utilisation of the oldest energy carrier we know. Check it out!