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GRass as a GReen Gas Resource: Energy from landscapes by promoting the use of grass residues as a renewable energy resource (GR3)

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The GR3 project will promote the use of grass and other herbaceous residues from landscape management as a resource for biogas in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Portugal. The energy potential of these residues remains underutilized across Europe. Barriers are insufficient awareness and acceptance of suitable technologies for the mowing, storage and anaerobic digestion of grass residues, absence or lack of cooperation between stakeholders along the value chain, as well as legal barriers. As a result, well-adapted supply chains of grass residues to biogas plants remain largely absent in the 5 targeted regions and beyond. Boosted by know-how transfer between countries, the project will bring key market actors together and provide them as well as decision-makers with technical, investment and legislative advices. This will trigger investments in value chains for grass residues and increase their market uptake as biogas feedstock. As such, the project will increase renewable energy production without competing with food production, protect permanent grasslands from land use changes, and increase ecological landscape management.


  • The overall expected result is the more widespread utilization of grass residues as a biogas feedstock throughout the partner regions, with a goal of 40% energetic utilization of available and practically utilizable grass residues by 2020. This will improve the perception of biogas production amongst local stakeholders such as municipalities by communicating advantages of grass residue digestion (such as local job creation) will reduce NIMBY bottlenecks that hinder increased biogas production;
  • A biomass quality prediction webtool for predicting the suitability for digestion of grass residues in function of their origin, manner of harvesting and digestion technology and a profit calculation webtool for evaluating the techno-economic feasibility and profitability of replacing conventional feedstock with grass residues will be developed.
  • 10 business plans will be produced for the adaptation of their waste management chain. These will result in 5 joint declarations of intent by residue generators and processors to invest in their respective sections of a value chain. As a result, it is estimated that 60.000 tons of grass residues will get digested instead of being disposed or composted. This will result in the production of 7.200 toe/year renewable energy production and 39.000 t CO2e/year reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A manual on best practices, technologies and regulations for (amongst others) municipalities, and one for (amongst others) nature conservancies will be made and distributed during regional workshops, as well as a manual on the digestion of grass residues for biogas plants. An easy-to-read final publishable report for decision makers and the general public will summarize the benefits of grass residue valorization and recommendations for removing the non-technical barriers.

Lessons learned

  • The legal framework can be a significantly restriction for the energetically use of grass (especially classification waste or product). Within every one of the participating regions the legal restrictions might be the major problem in order to have grass valorized in digesters.
  • Given the aspects of lower contamination, larger areas, etc, it is more likely that nature grass will be digestated, instead of grass from roadsides. The benefit of this type of grass is that there is a lower cost required for the pretreatment, and it appears a lower risk to the (wet) digesters.
  • Whether or not the valorization of grass clippings is possible is highly dependant of case-by-case situations. There are a lot of factors that have influence on the actual feasibility of grass digestion, both economic (e.g. country-specific subsidy guidelines) and technical (level of contamination etc.)

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In brief

01/04/2013 to 31/03/2016
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