The project “Accelerating Renewable energies through valorisation of Biogenic Organic Raw material” (ARBOR) is approaching its successful close. The main aim of the project was to foster and accelerate sustainable biomass sourcing and use in North West Europe (NWE) to help European countries reach their 2020 renewable energy objectives. The final conference was held on June 9th, 2015, in Brussels and brought together around 100 biomass and bioenergy professionals from across NWE.
Funded by INTERREG IVB NWE and bringing together 13 partners from Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the project targeted the challenges facing the development of biomass-based energy production in Europe. Although biomass has become a consistent source of renewable energy over the last decade, further development has been hampered by the discussion on the competition for land and resources in the agricultural and forestry sectors, nature conservation issues and land-use change impacts, leading to decreased public acceptance for biomass based energy. However, biomass needs to play an important role as a major renewable energy source for Europe in order for targets to be met, which can happen if certain principles regarding efficiency and sustainability are followed.
In this context, the ARBOR project partners carried out a wide range of activities to tackle the above mentioned challenges, including pilot studies on different biomass-based technologies and concepts, a state of the art analysis of biomass for bioenergy projects across NWE, benchmark studies on NWE biomass targets and the progress made towards reaching them, creating an inventory of companies active in the biomass and bio-energy sector, a market study on technologies available in the bioenergy sector, the comparison of the political and legal conditions for bioenergy in the different regions as well as environmental and economic assessments of the ARBOR biomass valorisation schemes and pilots. The results of these activities can be found on the ARBOR project page on list.lu or on the ARBOR website.
Researchers from LIST's Environmental Research and Innovation department (ERIN), in cooperation with German partner IZES gGmbH, were responsible for ARBOR's sustainability assessment, including an analysis of the environmental impacts (Life Cycle Assessment - LCA) and the economic implications related to use of biomass in the particular concepts. In particular, LIST was involved in assessing the concepts of the use of buffer strips for low-impact biomass mobilising, production of wood through fast-growing tree plantations (short rotation coppice) in the multiple land use scheme, use of cover crops for energy production, and comparison of different techniques of nutrient recovery from digestate (the residue originating from biogas plants).
As an example, in the latter case study, LIST evaluated the environmental performance and economic business cases of different techniques to treat digestate. The assessment, based on data from existing treatment plants in Flanders, demonstrated the environmental net-benefits as compared to the untreated spreading of this material on agricultural soils. Further, the study depicted the necessary economic framework in which the transfer of such concepts to Luxembourg or another NWE country could be successful.
The results of these studies, together with the comparison of the political and legal framework on bioenergy utilisation, were included in the development of strategies for the transfer and implementation of pilot solutions to the different regional contexts across NWE. Additionally, the knowledge and competence transfer within the ARBOR project will support the implementation of relevant biomass solutions in Luxembourg.
The main findings, based on the ARBOR pilots, investments and actions, have been thematically clustered and summarised in five Case Study Reports dedicated to low-impact energy crops, agro side-streams, nutrient recovery from digestate, industrial biomass based synergy parks and municipal closed loop biomass valorisation systems (including use of sewage sludge, organic waste, greenery cuttings and waste wood). Additionally, strategic guidelines for transferring the biomass use concepts to other regions were developed based on local case studies and the particular fields of application of the ARBOR project.
>>The full set of recommendations will be available for download in August 2015 from the project website arbornwe.eu
>>Learn more about the ARBOR project and find an extensive list of downloads on the project page.