The availability of biomass is a crucial topic in the biobased economy. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has a unique position within this domain. We have knowledge of both upstream and downstream chains and can thus establish a link between the requirements of biomass producers and the needs of users.
Several stages are involved in charting the availability of biomass. First we look at the specific purpose of the availability study: Is it intended as policy support at a national or European level, for instance, or to determine whether there is sufficient biomass for a project with specific conditions? We examine the current gross production of biomass within the target area and deduce how much biomass can be produced there within a given period given competition with other applications and the relevant economic and sustainability constraints. We often use scenarios which take into account future uncertainties. This allows us to arrive at a balanced availability assessment.
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research provides insight into not only the availability, but also the characteristics (quality) of the biomass, as well as costs, alternative uses and sustainability aspects. We critically examine whether the supply of biomass competes with agricultural crops. To avoid such competition, we work on two main solutions: Valorising unutilised or underutilised biomass and cultivation on marginal land. Our final product is a good estimate of the availability of biomass under sustainable conditions and at acceptable costs.