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GIS-based decision support system aimed at a sustainable energetic exploitation of biomass at regional level (BIOENERGIS)

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BioEnerGIS aimed at improving the sustainable energy exploitation of biomass at regional level developing a GIS-based decision support system which allows both public decision makers and private operators to identify the most suitable sites for biomass plant installations, in terms of energy, environmental and economic sustainability. The GIS-based DSS "BIOPOLE" combines supply and demand-side data, regional legislation, technological options and business plans to produce maps for capability localization. The end-use technology focus was on district heating systems and cogeneration plants. BioEnerGIS also explored the public and private interest in realizing the plants, the different stakeholders’ needs and the possible finance or laws instruments in order to encourage a shared action programme. The overall approach and system was tested in four regional case study areas, representing different environmental and economic conditions (Lombardy, Wallonia, Slovenia and Northern Ireland).


  • BioEnerGIS mapped in Lombardy, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Wallonia: the biomass (58 sub-categories from forestry, agricultural residues, wastes and sludge, biogenic part of households and industrial wastes) potentially exploitable for energy purpose. In line with the EU legislation, BioEnerGIS has contributed to harmonize the methodologies and glossaries in biomass assessment; the heat demand (14 subcategories, from residential, industrial and tertiary sectors) potentially fulfulles by biomass
  • A GIS-based DSS BIOPOLE was developed to help identifing the optimal location for new biomass plants, through: characterization of cells in terms of heat demand (500 m x 500 m) and available biomass (1 km x 1 km); selection of the best technological options –matched with financial analyses- according to the local regulatory framework and to the technical parameters for the creation of the district heating system; verification of the sustainability criteria identified with the local stakeholders
  • BioEnerGIS explored the public and private interest in realizing biomass plants and district heating systems and imported in BIOPOLE the major sustainability criteria highlighted during the Project’s experience
  • Six local Agreements, through which the stakeholders confirmed their availability to collaborate in order to conduct more detailed pre-feasibility studies around new biomass plants placed in their territory and to create and develop local chains in order to better utilize - through sustainable socio-economic and environmental management plans - the biomass locally available, were signed in three different countries with municipalities, mountain communities and biomass producers
  • The Project aroused a strong interest at local, regional and national level about BIOPOLE, whose simple functioning and clear responses make it easy to replicate and to update

Lessons learned

  • The assessments of the biomass potential and heat demand could not be sustainable in terms of suitability of results, time spent and costs. According to Partners’ experience is quite difficult to have a common specific methodology if aiming at detailed results, but a good compromise between top-down and bottom-up approach can be found, even if data are largely different for source type, geographical resolution and technical details
  • In the localization of new biomass plants designed to provide heat to small DHS a good spatial resolution of the end-users of heat and a good definition of the characteristics of the available biomass are crucial. The algorithms of the DSS well suit the planning needs of the four case study areas; the chance to personalize the processing solutions makes BIOPOLE also suitable for different regions and situations
  • The national backgrounds and the characteritics of partners affected the type of the actively involved stakeholders. Participation and availability to sign local agreements are more concrete if stakeholders are already involved in local policies. Interest was quite difficult to obtain at the beginning of the Project, since: public administration has different time horizons respect to Project frame; private stakeholders usually need answers in a phase in which the Project can only promise results

Partners and coordinator

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Cestec SpA
Contact point: 
Alessandro Chiesa
0039 02 66737353


Key documents

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In brief

01/11/2008 to 31/10/2011
Contract number: 
IEE/07/638/ SI2.499702

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