Biomass Download as PDF
Issue March 2015

Biomass

Sustainable production and use

Editorial


Supply and demand – pathways towards optimised biomass use

Editorial by Michael Sailer, CEO, Oeko-Institut

Biomass comes in many different forms and has a wide variety of applications. Examples are the use of timber in the furniture industry, residues in energy production, and fibre in the garment industry. In other words, it is an extremely versatile raw material. However, the biogeographical spaces that provide these inputs are used with varying degrees of intensity, sometimes with adverse consequences. As you may be aware, I live in the Darmstadt area and am very familiar with the Pfungstädter Moor, a great example of the successful conservation of precious peatlands. Peat was still being extracted for fuel here as late as the 1950s, and reeds were still being cut for use as a roofing material. Today, much of the peatland has been restored to a natural state and provides a habitat for numerous native species of bird and plant.

This is just one small example, but it shows that...

more
Supply and demand – pathways towards optimised biomass use

In Focus


Diverse but finite

Sustainable production of biomass

Biomass is in abundant supply. It comes in the form of foodstuffs, such as cereals, fruit and sugar. And we are familiar with its uses as a material input: timber in the manufacturing of paper and other goods, sugar crops in biofuels production, cotton in the garment industry … the list goes on. And let’s not forget bioenergy, which now represents around 80 per cent of the world’s renewable energy supply. Biomass is everywhere. And no wonder, for it has a lot to offer. But how is... more

Diverse but finite

A question of ethics

Biomass use

Type “pictures of biomass” into Google, and what pops up on your screen? Photos of rape fields, wood pellets and biomass plants – the full bioenergy spectrum. Images linking biomass to food production, on the other hand, are hard to find. On the Internet, biomass seems to be synonymous with bioenergy: food plays a minor role in this context. And yet the food/fuel nexus deserves to be centre stage in the debate about sustainable biomass use. The precedence of food security over... more

A question of ethics

“Energy supply units will be smaller in size”

Interview with Professor Daniela Thrän (German Biomass Research Centre)

How can regenerative resources make the best possible contribution to our energy supply? This is the key issue on the bioenergy agenda for Professor Daniela Thrän, who heads the Bioenergy Systems Department at the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ) and the Bioenergy Department at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ). She expects energy supply units to shrink in future, with more targeted use of bioenergy in combination with other energies. Professor Thrän,... more

“Energy supply units will be smaller in size”

Older issues