Sustainable Feedstocks for Advanced Biofuels Production in Europe


EBTP SPM7 Presentation on Sustainable and resource efficient biomass

Introduction to sustainable feedstocks for biofuels production

List of sustainable biomass feedstocks

Current biomass feedstock production

Previous presentations on biomass feedstocks in Europe

Biofuels feedstocks: land use, availability, logistics and competition

EU projects and studies on biomass supply and demand, availability assessments and mapping of biomass

Global development of advanced biofuels feedstocks

Links and references

EBTP SPM7 Presentation on Sustainable and resource efficient biomass

pdf Presentation (2721 Kb) on Sustainable and resource efficient biomass by Calliope Panoutsou, Imperial College London, based on the panel discussion held at EBTP SPM7, June 2016

Presentation on Sustainable and resource efficient biomass

Sustainable feedstocks for biofuels production

Biomass is the oldest source of fuel energy. However, using biomass for the production of transport fuels is a relatively new application with a significant increase during the last 10 to 15 years. Biofuels can substitute fossil derived transport fuels, with the advantage of providing carbon from a renewable source.

In broad terms, the various types of biomass feedstocks potentially available for biofuels production can be categorized as follows :

Dedicated Crops

Wastes and Residues

Sugar Crops
Starch Crops
Oil Crops
Lignocellulosic Crops
Algae and Aquatic Biomass


Oil-based Residues
Lignocellulosic Residues
Organic Residues and others
Waste gases

On the basis of the feedstock used in production, biofuels may be referred to as:

Conventional (first-generation) biofuels are produced from food crops (sugar, starch, oil), such as palm, rapeseed, soy, beets and cereals (corn, wheat, etc).

Advanced (second-generation and third-generation) biofuels - as defined by the European Commission - are produced from feedstock that "do not compete directly with food and feed crops, such as wastes and agricultural residues (i.e. wheat straw, municipal waste), non-food crops (i.e. miscanthus and short rotation coppice) and algae.” At the moment only about 2 % of biofuel production are covered by advanced biofuels [Bacovsky et al. 2012].

Following global concerns about the impacts of using food crops for production of biofuels, the EC has introduced measures to encourage a more diverse range of feedstocks to be used in future. Measures include restricting state aid for conventional biofuels, a proposed cap of 7% (of transport energy use) on biofuels from "food crops", and double counting of biofuels produced from certain wastes and residues. Hence, the future expansion of biofuels (for road freight, air transport, shipping, and other uses) will require the commercial deployment of innovative conversion technologies that may be more complex and costly than conventional production methods.

This page contains general information and links on a range of sustainable feedstocks that could be used for producing advanced biofuels. These include:

  • Energy crops grown on marginal land - that do not compete directly with food crops for land or cause indirect Land Use Change
  • Wastes and residues - agricultural, forestry, food, MSW, and other organic wastes and residues
  • Novel feedstocks - such as aquatic plants, macroalage (seaweed), microalgae and other microbial biomass

The term advanced biofuels typically refers to biofuels produced from lignocellulosic (LC) biomass (i.e. any non-food 'woody' parts of plants that humans cannot digest). This covers a range of plant molecules/biomass containing cellulose and hemicelluose with varying amounts of lignin, chain length, and degrees of polymerization. Some cellulosic materials are relatively easy to breakdown into substrates that can be used to create fuel molecules. For example, citrus peel may be converted to plant sugars. For more complex cellulosic materials containing greater amounts of lignin (e.g. hardwood) the production route to liquid biofuels requires pretreatment and may be more challenging and costly.

An EEA report published in July 2013 EU bioenergy potential from a resource efficiency perspective provides a recent overview on the use of biomass feedstocks in Europe, and discusses some of the issues surrounding expansion of energy crop production.

Globally, projects - such as the Landscape Biomass Project Iowa State University - look at how to balance needs for food, feed, fuel and energy, by integrating advanced biofuels technologies and novel energy crops.

The links at the end of this page provide more detailed information on the various types of sustainable feedstocks for production of advanced biofuels.

List of sustainable feedstocks

A wide range of sustainable feedstocks are potentially available for the production of advanced biofuels:

Agricultural residues (see "double counted" feedstocks below)

Forest biomass (see "double counted" feedstocks below)

Energy crops - “Energy crops” may be defined as crops specifically bred and cultivated:

  • To produce biomass with specific traits to serve as an energy vector to release energy either by direct combustion or by conversion to other vectors such as biogas or liquid biofuels, or;
  • To be used in biorefinery concepts (to produce Fibre, Biochemicals, etc) and are;
  • Typically grown on marginal land not suitable for production of food crops.

Other biowaste streams (see "double counted" feedstocks below)


  • algae cultivated in raceway ponds or bioreactors
  • seaweeds
  • pondweeds grown in freshwater
  • cyanobacteria and other microorganisms

Feedstocks "counted double" under the proposed revision to the Renewable Energy Directive

See Fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive (P8_TA-PROV(2015)0100 Fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive II; European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 April 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (10710/2/2014 – C8-0004/2015 – 2012/0288(COD))).

See also: Correction to the above document (this affects a single sentence).

In the Annex to the above proposal, the following feedstocks are considered to be non-food feedstocks (suitable for conversion to "advanced biofuels") and hence are counted double towards the 10% 2020 target for renewable fuels in transport under the RED.

Part A. Feedstocks and fuels whose contribution towards the target(s) referred to in Article 3(4) shall be considered to be twice their energy content:

(a) Algae if cultivated on land in ponds or photobioreactors

(b) Biomass fraction of mixed municipal waste, but not separated household waste subject to recycling targets under Article 11(2)(a) of Directive 2008/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives.

(c) Bio-waste as defined in Article 3(4) of Directive 2008/98/EC from private households subject to separate collection as defined in Article 3(11) of that Directive.

(d) Biomass fraction of industrial waste not fit for use in the food or feed chain, including material from retail and wholesale and the agro- food and fish and aquaculture industry, and excluding feedstocks listed in Part B of this Annex.

(e) Straw.

(f) Animal manure and sewage sludge.

(g) Palm oil mill effluent and empty palm fruit bunches.

(h) Tall oil pitch.

(i) Crude glycerine.

(j) Bagasse.

(k) Grape marcs and wine lees.

(l)Nut shells.

(m) Husks.

(n) Cobs cleaned of kernels of corn.

(o) Biomass fraction of wastes and residues from forestry and forest-based industries, i.e. b ark, branches, pre-
commercial thinnings, leaves, needles, tree tops, saw dust, cutter shavings, black liquor, brown liquor, fibre sludge,
lignin and tall oil.

(p) Other non-food cellulosic material as defined in point r) of the second subparagraph of Article 2.

(q) Other ligno- cellulosic material as defined in point s) of the second subparagraph of Article 2 except saw logs and veneer logs.

(r) Renewable liquid and gaseous fuels of non-biological origin.

(s) Carbon capture and utilization for transport purposes, if the energy source is renewable in accordance with Article 2(a).

(t) Bacteria, if the energy source is renewable in accordance with Article 2(a).

Part B. Feedstocks whose contribution towards the target referred to in the first subparagraph of Article 3(4) shall be considered to be twice their energy content

(a) Used cooking oil.

(b) Animal fats classified as category I and II in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 laying down health rules
as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 (Animal by-products Regulation)


Current biomass feedstock production

Elbersen et al. (2012) estimate that there are approximately 5.5 million hectares of agricultural land on which bioenergy cropping takes place. This amounts to 3.2 % of the total cropping area (and around 1 % of the utilised agricultural area) in the EU-27. Practically all of this land is used for biofuel cropping, mostly oil crops (82 % of the land used for biomass production), which are processed into biodiesel. The rest is used for the production of ethanol crops (11 %), biogas (7 %), and perennials which go mostly into electricity and heat generation (1 %). The table below shows the cultivated area of the most important energy crops in Europe [Source: Bacovsky after Elbersen et al (2012)].

Bioenergy Cropping Area in Europe (2006-2008)


Area (hectares)











Sugar Beet






Reed Canary Grass






Other arables (e.g. sorghum)


Archive presentations on feedstocks

EBTP SPM6 Presentation on biomass mobilisation and sustainability

Presentation on biomass mobilisation and sustainability by Calliope Panoutsou, Imperial College London, based on the panel discussion held at EBTP SPM6, October 2014.

Feedstock presentations From EBTP SPM5 February 2013

pdf icon Agricultural policies to ensure feedstock mobilisation

Markus Holzer, Head of Unit, Bioenergy, Forest and Climatic Change, European Commission, DG AGRI

pdf icon Non-technical challenges for a company intending to build a demonstration/flagship plant - biomass sourcing strategy

Hannes Lechner, Principal - Global Bioenergy Practice,
Pöyry Management Consulting (UK) Ltd

Biomass Supply Challenges: How to meet biomass demand by 2020? was a half-day workshop held at the Beurs-World Trade Centre, Rotterdam on 15 March 2012. The workshop was jointly organised by Working Group 1 of the European Biofuels Technology Platform and the Renewable Heating and Cooling European Technology Platform, in co-operation with World Biofuels Markets 2012. Demand for sustainable biomass is forecast to increase greatly over the next decade for biofuels producers (road, air and marine), biorefineries, utilities and bioenergy producers. This workshop brought together speakers from various sectors across Europe to discuss the challenge of providing reliable volumes of biomass at competitive cost, while meeting sustainability criteria. View workshop Presentations.

The pathway to low-input, high-efficiency feedstocks - sustainability, land availability, economics, and policy issues.
Presentation by Calliope Panoutsou at EBTP SPM4 on 15-09-11

Availability of biomass for advanced biofuels production

In Europe, proposals have been introduced to limit the amount of biofuels that can be grown on land suitable for food-crop production. Hence future expansion of biofuels production is dependent on cultivation of energy crops on marginal land, and mobilisation of waste streams (for example, from agriculture, forestry, bioindustry and domestic refuse collection). The actual amount of sustainable feedstock available depends on various factors:

  • the potential amount of 'marginal' land types that may theoretically be available for energy crops
  • the total amount of organic wastes and residues that are theoretically available across Europe
  • competition for land for other uses such as, housing, conservation, animal grazing, recreation, etc
  • the percentage of marginal land that it is feasible to exploit for biomass production for economic, logistic and enviromental reasons (relating to water, soil carbon, fertiliser inputs, biodiversity, etc)
  • competing demand for biomass from bioenergy and bioproducts

Such issues have been the subject of a range of projects and studies on biomass availability in Europe.

Biomass potential

There are plenty of studies on biomass potentials, but most of these do not specify potentials that could be used for liquid biofuels. In the IEA Bioenergy ExCo Report of 2009 an enormous variation in the results of worldwide biomass potential assessment according to different studies is stated. In the same report a technical biomass potential of 1500 EJ/year is mentioned; speaking about a sustainable biomass potential the authors claim 200 – 500 EJ/year by 2050. In the so called “sustainability scenario” of Elbersen et al. (2012) the potential for 2030 is 353 Mtoe compared to the current 314 Mtoe, with the overall waste potential declining. Only a rise for agricultural residues and for secondary and tertiary forestry residues (e.g. saw dust, black liquor) is to be expected. On the other hand the authors of "Waste – Europe’s untapped resource" state that if all waste and residues were converted only to biofuels in the EU, 16% of road transport fuel could be provided in 2030 (technical potential of sustainably available feedstock from waste).

Other recent assessments of biomass potential include Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand Projections: A working paper for REMap 2030 published by IRENA in September, 2014.

Plant breeding and biomass yield

The amount of biomass required to replace a significant proportion of the fossil fuel used in transport runs into millions of tonnes. Hence, a crucial question is that of biomass yield. Higher yields obviously enable a similar amount of biofuel to be replaced using less land. However, land use efficiency may also be improved by selecting an overall production chain that can use a high yielding biomass crop.

For instance most oils seed crops only produce a few tonnes per hectare per annum, sugar and starch crops may generate 5 to 10 tonnes, while significantly greater yields come from woody plants – or from conventional crops such as cereals if the straw can be used. Greater utilisation of such materials depends on the development of advanced conversion technologies.

Plant breeding promotes the most essential traits for a bioenergy crop such as high yield of biomass, but also improvements such as single annual harvest, recycling more nutrients back into roots before harvest, delayed harvest or disease resistance. Many of the breeding and development efforts for bioenergy crops emphasize perennial crops and target lands that are marginal or less ideal for food or livestock production, such as land that is excessively wet or dry, acid soils, or highly erodible soils. As plant breeders develop crops dedicated to bioenergy, they use innovations such as hybridization, delayed flowering, genetic modification or genomics to reach their goals.

Even when higher yielding and novel feedstocks come to market, land availability still sets limits to what may be produced. Hence, suggestions have been made for the movement of biomass or biomass derived fuels from the more productive regions to the more industrialised countries (see logistics below).

See also Indirect Land Use Change ILUC

Projects such as the Landscape Biomass Project Iowa State University look at how to balance needs for food, feed, fuel and energy, by integrating advanced biofuels technologies and novel energy crops.

Competition for biomass

Competition for biomass is a key issue in the debate on biofuels. Biomass is used as food, materials (e.g. bioplastics, wood, textiles etc.) and for energetic use – all these applications require (biomass) resources. Factors influencing competition are raw material prices, prices of end products, policy, availability of land for feedstock or technological constraints. This brings along the following challenges for the biofuel development:

  • Competition between sectors of the Bioeconomy could deter investors (too many options and none with an established market)
  • Competition between sectors of the Bioeconomy could trigger a “supply bubble” (rising feedstock prices at stable or decreasing demand)
  • Feedstock producers need to be reassured that additional costs deriving from mobilizing agricultural/forestry residues will generate stabile income and long-term benefits
  • Lack of coherent national Bioeconomy development plans does not allow allocating resources according to needs, while the biomass markets are still rather volatile
  • Resources for research and development funding are also affected by competition

Logistics of biomass production

For any proposed use of biomass a Life Cycle Analysis needs to be applied taking into account the total cost and energy balance from the source of the feedstock to its end use. The overall economic, environmental and energy cost of collection, handling, processing and transport needs to be assessed. Other factors include:

  • The specific properties of biomass: low energy density, which often requires drying and densification; seasonal availability causing long storage and therefore high costs and problematic storage requiring further pre-treatment (e.g. pelletizing, torrefication) to lower transportation costs.
  • Limited supply because of a lack of available and appropriately mechanized equipment and limited access to conversion structure and markets.
  • At local level, planning issues, traffic movements and industrial development policies need to be taken into account. Generally, it is a benefit to develop a biofuel plant close to the point of feedstock production. However this has to be balanced against economies of scale of the biofuel production facility.

Preserving biodiversity, ecology and soil quality

Generally, a certain proportion of biomass (straw, stalks, fallen wood, etc) has to be left in situ to maintain forest or field ecology, and to maintain the condition of the soil, prevent erosion, and provide habitat, for example for beneficial insects and fungi, and to promote biodiversity.

In many potentially productive areas (globally), preserving biodiversity may offer greater environmental and economic benefit than clearing forest to produce energy crops. Hence mechanisms need to be put into place to recognise the value of biodiversity These include the use of payments for ecosystem services, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and REDD-plus (which places a greater value on biodiversity rather than just the quantity of carbon held in the forest system).

The Sustainability section of this website discusses land availability, food vs fuel, iLUC and related topics in more detail.

EU projects and studies on biomass supply and demand, availability assessments and mapping of biomass

Various EU projects (among others) have addressed the availability, mapping and valorisation of biomass resources across Europe:

S2Biom Project - Delivery of sustainable supply of non-food biomass to support a “resource-efficient” Bioeconomy in Europe: The main aim of this project is to support the sustainable delivery of non-food biomass feedstock at local, regional and pan European level through developing strategies, and roadmaps that will be informed by a “computerized and easy to use” toolset (and respective databases) with updated harmonized datasets at local, regional, national and pan European level for EU28, Western Balkans, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine.

See also the Forestry page for further studies, projects and the EC's sustainable forestry strategy

The Volante Project (Vision of Land Use Transition in Europe) will provide an interdisciplinary scientific basis to inform land use and natural resource management policies and decision-making. It will achieve this by advancing knowledge in land system science and using this knowledge to develop a Roadmap for future land resource management in Europe and will design new methodologies and integrated models to analyse human environment interactions, feedbacks in land use systems, hotspots of land use transitions and identify critical thresholds in land system dynamics. The Roadmap will bring together this science-base with key players in research, policy, business and NGOs, and will be a significant European Science Policy Briefing for the years to come in the promotion of multifunctional and sustainable pathways of land system change.

AquaTerrE - Integrated European Network for biomass and waste reutilisation for Bioproducts aimed to promote the cooperation between research centres, business and other stakeholders in Europe devoted to the research, development and application of biomass and biofuel production and valorisation. The main goal of AquaTerrE was to make an inventory of existing biomass feedstocks in Europe and quantify the potential and identify of the best ones. In addition, to study the best possibilities for implementing different biomass sources in different environments to improve their utilisation. Pursuing this target, literature and data survey and current research review will be carried out. AquaTerrE will also mapo European biomass feedstocks using different tools, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

BEE - Biomass Energy Europe (FP7 - 213417) aimed to harmonise biomass resource assessments, focusing on the availability of biomass for energy in Europe and its neighbouring regions. This harmonisation will improve the consistency, accuracy and reliability of biomass assessments, which can serve the planning of a transition to renewable energy in the European Union.

The BIOCLUS project was focused on the sustainable use of biomass resources and aims at boosting regional competitiveness and growth in five European cluster regions: Central Finland, Navarre (Spain), Western Macedonia (Greece), Slovakia and Wielkopolska (Poland). This is achieved by:

  • Promoting scientific, strategic and business competence at cluster and consortium level
  • Developing collaboration capabilities in the clusters and consortium level
  • Improving innovation to business environment by mutual learning and by mentoring.

The BIOCLUS project was funded by FP7 and is coordinated by JAMK, University of Applied Sciences, Jyväskylä, Finland.

Biomass Futures (IEE) The Biomass Futures Project assessed the role that biomass can play in meeting EU energy policy targets. It will develop tailored information packages for stakeholders, as well as inform and support policy makers at both the European and national levels. The project will define the key factors likely to influence biomass supply, demand and uptake over the next twenty years (meeting the RED targets). Among other factors, partners will examine the EU heat, electricity-CHP and transport markets; supply and demand dynamics; the effects of indirect land use change, water use and social aspects on future biomass supply, etc.

CEUBIOM - Classification of European Biomass Potential for Using Terrestrial and Earth Observations (FP7 - 213634) aimed to develop a common methodology for gathering information on biomass potential using terrestrial and earth observations. This objective was achieved by the implementation of a systematic assessment work plan resulting in the establishment of a harmonised approach and an e-training tool for dissemination. The e-training environment was an important tool for reaching the much needed European harmonisation, whereas a Stakeholder Platform facilitated access to reliable and common datasets on biomass potential and as such it offered a more efficient use of the available European biomass feedstock.

Earlier studies on biomass resource potential in Europe

Previously, several studies have been conducted at European and global level in order to assess the potentials of different biomass resources for production of bifouels. The respective results present a wide variety of estimates based on various assumptions and hypotheses. Conservative results on total biomass potential come from the EEA study: How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment? It estimates a total bioenergy potential from agriculture, forestry and waste of almost 300 MtOE in 2030. Of this 142 MTOE will come from agriculture only which is obtained from 19 million hectares of agricultural land. This is equivalent to 12 % of the utilised agricultural area in 2030.

The potential study of VIEWLS (2004) comes with a much higher estimate of 35-44 million hectares of land available for biomass production only in EU-10. VIEWLS does however not take environmental considerations as a stating point. Shift gear to Biofuels - Results and Recommendations from the VIEWLS Project

In 2007, REFUEL and IIASA Land Use Change and Agriculture Programme produced the report: Assessment of biomass potentials for biofuel feedstock production in Europe.

The JRC Action on Sustainability of Bioenergy has looked at availability and sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks in Europe and other countries (e.g. the tropics). The JEC Biofuels Programme (JRC, EUCAR, CONCAWE) also covered availability of biofuels feedstocks. Further activities on availability and sustainability of biofuels are covered by the JRC Biofuels Thematic Programme.

The BeCoTeps project addressed availability and sustainability of biomass for a range of non-food uses, through a series of workshops and associated activities.

Archive examples of EU Supported Research, Development and Demonstration activities and Related Studies

ENFA European Non-Food Agriculture (FP6 – 006581)
This project will establish a dynamic agricultural and forest sector model for the integrated economic and environmental assessment of non-food alternatives in European agriculture and forestry. This tool will be used to analyze market and environmental impacts from the adoption of non-food strategies. Market impacts include supply potentials for agricultural non-food product lines under alternative policy and technology scenarios, supply, price, and trade effects for traditional agricultural and forestry products, and measures of rural community change such as changes in farm welfare, labor demand, and land values.

EPOBIO - Realising the economic potential of sustainable resources - bioproducts from non-food crops (FP6 – 022681)
This project is carrying out an integrated analysis of the European agricultural industrial and market potential requires in terms of technical and non-technical barriers facing non-food applications so that further RTD effort can be is focused on those areas with a high possibility of success. It reviews scientific and technical challenges in the context of societal expectations and economic, environmental legislative and regulatory parameters. It will result in recommendations of key activities (Flagship Programmes) that are most likely to result in development of products/ applications that can be developed from agriculture and forestry and provide tangible societal benefit by 2020. One of the first Flagship Reports includes an analysis of plant cell wall utilisation.

BIOCARD - Global Process To Improve Cynara cardunculus Exploitation for Energy Applications. (FP6 - 19829 )
The proposal aimed at demonstrating technical and economical feasibility of a global process for cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L.) exploitation for energy applications. This energy crop is appropriated for Mediterranean Area, where high problems about water insufficient exist. A combined process to produce a low-cost liquid biofuel from seeds and energy from lignocellulosic biomass is proposed. Different technologies for biomass energy conversion will be researched and compared in order to increase competitiveness and improve the costs. New heterogeneous catalysis for liquid biofuel production will be tested.

CROPGEN - Renewable energy from crops and agrowastes (FP6 - 502824)
The overall objective of this project is to produce from biomass a sustainable fuel source that can be integrated into the existing energy infrastructure in the medium term, and in the longer term will also provide a safe and economical means of supplying the needs of a developing hydrogen fuel economy. The concept is based on the use of anaerobic digestion (AD) as a means of producing methane from biomass, including energy crops and agricultural residues. The technology of biochemical methane generation is well established: the breakthrough to a cost-effective and competitive energy supply will come from engineering and technical improvements to increase conversion efficiencies, and from reductions in the cost of biomass. The research will determine how the technology can best be applied to provide a versatile, low-cost, carbon-neutral biofuel in an environmentally sound and sustainable agricultural framework.

European Energy Crops Processing and Utilisation in Europe (FAIR-CT95-0512)
The objective of this concerted action was to to improve the access to existing information on the production, processing and utilisation of energy crops as well as to enhance the integration of research, development and implementation activities on energy crops.

SWEETFUEL - Sweet sorghum: an alternative energy crop (FP7 - 227422)
Sweet sorghum, as a source of either fermentable free sugars or lignocellulosics, has many potential advantages, including: high water, nitrogen and radiation use efficiency; broad agro-ecological adaptation; rich genetic diversity for useful traits; and the potential to produce fuel feedstock, food and feed in various combinations. Fuel-food crops can thereby help reconciling energy and food security issues. This project will breed for improved cultivars and hybrids of sorghum for temperate, tropical semi-arid and tropical acid-soil environments by pyramiding in various combinations, depending on region and ideotype, tolerance to cold, drought and acid (Al-toxic) soils; and high production of stalk sugars, easily digestible biomass and grain. SweetFuel aims also to identify and recommend the best cultural and harvest practices to make the system more sustainable and to provide for integrated technology and impact assessments including economics, dissemination and coordination. Research involves structured participation of stake holders, including policy makers. Project outcomes will be new germplasm, sustainable practices and commodity chain concepts adapted to each target region. (Source: EPSO)

SORGHUM: Environmental studies on sweet and fibre sorghum sustainable crops for biomass and energy (FAIR-CT96-1913)
The general objective of this project was to study the environmental impacts of sweet and fibre sorghum within real cropping systems with particular reference to nitrogen balance. The aim was to provide information that was lacking in order to introduce these crops in crop rotations and establish the environmental impact under field conditions on existing cropping systems.

Sweet Sorghum, A Sustainable Crop for Energy Production in Europe (AIR1-CT92-0041)
This project aimed to optimize the production of this crop in various pedoclimatic situations from north to south Europe using previous data and reliable references in order to propose a model for agro-industry systems (technical, economic and environmental) in different European scenarios as well as solve or reduce the limitations of this crop identified in previous studies.

US projects to develop supply chains for sustainable biofuel feedstocks

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy announced funding of two projects on bioenergy feedstock logistics. The State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, will carry out a $3.5m project to lower the cost of SRC, and improve harvesting and processes, to deliver feedstocks better tailored to the needs of biorefineries. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will carry out a $3.5m study on optimised blending of biomass feedstocks within the delivery radius of a biorefinery. The project will develop a processing facility to provide more consistent feedstock.

The USDA NIFA is coordinating 6 regional development projects to develop feedstocks for advanced biofuels, including energy grasses, sorghum, energy cane, oil crops and cellulosic biomass. The University of Washington is leading the Advanced Hardwood Biofuels Northwest project, as well as the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance: which is encouraging the conversion of forestry residues to aviation fuels. The Southeast Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems led by the University of Tennessee is using switchgrass and woody biomass to produce butanol and aviation fuel. Biofuels Center of North Carolina recently awarded $684,000 for six projects to accelerate the renewable fuels industry in western North Carolina [Source: Biomass Magazine April 2013].

Energy crop premium (abolished in 2009)

In September 2006 the European Commission proposed to extend the energy crop premium introduced by the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy reform to the eight Member States which currently did not benefit from it. In a further push to encourage the production of feedstocks for renewable energy production, the Commission also proposed allowing the Member States to grant national aid of up to 50 percent of the costs of establishing multi-annual crops on areas on which an application for the energy crop aid has been made. In the interests of simplifying the management of the CAP, the Commission also proposed to allow eight Member States which joined the EU in 2004 to continue operating the Single Area Payment Scheme for a further two years until 2010. The countries affected were Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. However, in 2009 it was announced that the energy crop premium would be abolished, along with mandatory set aside.

Links and references

PDF Icon Fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive (P8_TA-PROV(2015)0100 Fuel quality directive and renewable energy directive II; European Parliament legislative resolution of 28 April 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view  to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (10710/2/2014 – C8-0004/2015 – 2012/0288(COD))).

OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2014-2023 (Chapter 3: Biofuels)
OECD (2014)

Setting up international biobased commodity trade chains
Netherlands Enterprise Agency (2014)

Sustainable Biomass Production and Use - Lessons Learned from the Netherlands Programe on Sustainable Biomass (NPSB) 2009-2013
Netherlands Enterprise Agency (2014)

Space for Energy Crops - Assessing the potential contribution to Europe's energy future
Produced by IEEP for European Environmental Bureau, Birdlife International and Transport & Environment (2014)

Prospects for Agricultural Markets and Income in the EU 2013-2023
EC Agriculture and Rural Development (2014)

EU bioenergy potential from a resource efficiency perspective
EEA (2013)

Mobilising Cereal Straw in the EU to Feed Advanced Biofuel Production
Institute for European Environmental Policy IEEP (Report produced for Novozymes, 2012)

Smart Use of Residues - Exploring the factors affecting the sustainable extraction rate of agricultural residues for advanced biofuels
WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature (with support from Novozymes and EU, 2012)

Atlas of EU biomass potentials Deliverable 3.3: Spatially detailed and quantified overview of EU biomass potential taking into account the main criteria determining biomass availability from different sources
Elbersen et al. (2012)

Bioenergy – a Sustainable and Reliable Energy Source – Main Report
IEA Bioenergy: ExCo: 2009:06

Wasted – Europe’s Untapped Resource. An Assessment of Advanced Biofuels from Wastes & Residues.
Malins et al. (2014)

Status of Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Facilities in 2012. IEA Report Task 39.
Bacovsky et al. (2013)

Toward a classification approach for biorefinery systems. Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining
Cherubini et al. (2009)

Sustainable Production of Second-generation Biofuels. IEA Information Paper
Eisentraut, A. (2010)

New and better switchgrass varieties for biofuels