An increased demand for biomass resources will be faced in the coming years as a result of the ambitious 2030 Climate Target Plan in the EU Green Deal, fast progress of the advanced biofuel technologies and the increasing needs of the bio-based industries. Many studies report that there is a considerable growth potential to make more residual biomass resources available in a sustainable way, but that requires further development of biomass logistics and supply chains to make biomass available at constant quantity and quality, sustainable, and economically affordable. Non-food crops could offer an alternative feedstock that could meet the increased demand for biomass resources. To do so, sustainable growing strategies have to be developed, so that they will not compete with food/feed crops over good quality lands nor affect the food/feed market.
Non-food crops could be grown on marginal or abandoned lands and turn this burden into opportunity. Perennial grasses like miscanthus, switchgrass or giant reed and woody species in short rotation cycles could strive under adverse climate and soil conditions and produce satisfactory biomass yields, while recently evidence is growing that also annual crops, like camelina and sorghum, could be cultivated on such land. Yet, information on expected yields and biomass quality is still limited and scattered. Sustainable growing strategies, like crop rotations, relay cropping, non-tillage, use of bio fertilisers or soil enhancers could offer opportunities for growing non-food crops on agricultural land without affecting the food/feed markets.
In addition to the energy market, the next industrial revolution has already started and this is the sustainable bioeconomy. It is therefore imperative that our understating and management of such systems has to improve so that we can facilitate the new wave of bioeconomy industrialisation applications.
Every year, a number of very interesting research activities on all above aspects are presented in the EUBCE, under the Topic 1 ‘SUSTAINABLE RESOURCES FOR DECARBONISING THE ECONOMY’, by distinguished scientists and entrepreneurs from all over the world, giving precious insights on the progress achieved, defining key success factors and potential gaps and articulating future perspectives
Head of Biomass Department CRES – Center for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving