Temporal and spatial mapping of theoretical biomass potential across the European Union

Günther, Susann; Karras, Tom; Naegeli de Torres, Friederike; Semella, Sebastian; Thrän, Daniela

With the increasing challenge to shift our economic system from carbon to renewable energy carriers, the demand for biogenic resources is growing. Biogenic municipal waste, agricultural by-products and industrial residues are under-utilised but are increasingly gaining in value. To date, there is no continuous database for these resources in the EU-27 countries. Existing datasets that estimate resource potentials for a single point in time often lack validation. A reliable and continuous database is thus needed to support the growing bioeconomy.

Spatial and temporal high-resolution data of biogenic residues serve as an invaluable resource for identifying areas with significant theoretical biomass potential and allows an in-depth understanding of dynamic patterns over time. This study elucidates the theoretical biomass potentials of 13 distinct biomasses from municipal waste, agricultural by-products and industrial residues quantified annually from 2010–2020. The spatial scope of the research covers the EU-27 Member States incorporating all entities represented at various levels within the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) as delineated by Eurostat, where possible. The regionalised data are subsequently validated against regional statistics from different countries. The findings demonstrate the feasibility of creating a time series of theoretical biomass potentials for the 13 selected waste types, by-products, and residues, and underscore the critical role of data validation when regionalising national or sub-national data to smaller NUTS entities. It could be shown that the values of small regions (NUTS 3) correlated well on average. When looking at individual regions in detail, regional characteristics such as the location of cultivation, waste management or reporting methods could lead to over- or underestimates of up to 100 %. Therefore, data at the regional level provide only limited reliability. In the case of industrial residues, regionalisation gave good results localising preference regions of high theoretical biomass potential, but more data on industrial production are needed to also estimate residual quantities at sub-national and local levels.

The biomass potentials modelled in this study have been published in an open-access database, which is designed as an extensible tool, enabling the understanding of national and regional trends of theoretical biomass potentials in the European Union and of the reliability of the regionalised data.

The estimated theoretical potential dataset can be downloaded free of charge from: https://doi.org/10.48480/g53t-ks72https://doi.org/10.48480/g53t-ks72 (Günther et al., 2023).

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Günther, Susann / Karras, Tom / Naegeli de Torres, Friederike / et al: Temporal and spatial mapping of theoretical biomass potential across the European Union. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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