The demand for biomass is increasing worldwide. Legislative packages such as the EU’s 2030 climate and energy policy framework are likely to have strong impacts on biomass supply, demand and flows, which must be reconciled with environmental, economic and social sustainability in Europe and globally.
Sectorial policies address the issue of biomass supply and demand and their impacts from quite diverse, and at times contrasting, perspectives.
A balanced overview
Recognising the need for a balanced, overarching and scientifically robust approach to assessing the status and trends of biomass, a number of European Commission (EC) services have given the Joint Research Centre (JRC) a mandate to provide data, models and analyses on EU and global biomass supply and demand and its sustainability (environmental, social and economic), on a long-term basis.
The envisaged work, initiated in 2015, covers all sources of biomass - agricultural, forest, marine - and includes an assessment of the impacts of the production and use of biomass, and the competition and the synergies between sectors for biomass resources. This assessment is designed to support the implementation of policy measures, and to develop and analyse scenarios for biomass supply and demand with short–term (2020), medium-term (2030) and long-term (2050) perspectives.
The JRC is thus tasked with providing the EC services, on a long-term basis, with data, models and analyses of EU and global biomass potential, supply, demand and related sustainability. The building of a comprehensive and coherent framework to handle the complexity of the issues at stake requires integration across sectors and policies, and calls for state-of-the-art biomass-related data, knowledge and modelling tools.
The activities have been organised in the JRC by setting up an institutional project, BIOMASS, which is carried out within the scope of the Mandate on the provision of data and analysis on biomass supply and demand on a long-term basis, and coordinated with the policy Directorate-Generals (DGs) of the European Commission. The DGs involved are Agriculture and Development (AGRI), Climate Action (CLIMA), International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Energy (ENER), Environment (ENV), Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE), Mobility and Transport (MOVE), Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO), Research and Innovation (RTD), Secretariat-General (SG) and Trade (TRADE).
The work planned for the first two years (2015-2016) is described in the Technical Specification. The early phases of the study will lay the foundations of a framework for the development of a robust scientific knowledge base and modelling capacity that can support policy making on biomass-related issues. Initial steps are focused on:
- the stocktaking of existing studies on biomass supply and demand, complemented by JRC data collection and in-house capacity,
- the development of a knowledge base on biomass-related issues, identifying gaps, and
- the projection of future forest-based and agriculture biomass supply and demand, and the related environmental impacts.