Exploring the production of bio-energy from wood biomass. Italian case study.

Sara González-García, Jacopo Bacenetti

The concerns related to the environmental impact related to energy production from fossil fuel are increasing. In this context, the substitution of fossil fuel based energy by bio-energy can be an effective solution. In this study, the production of electricity and heat in Italy in a combined heat and power plant (CHP) based on an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine from wood based biomass both from forest and agricultural activities has been analysed considering four potential alternative scenarios to the current energy status: biomass from very short rotation forestry (VSRF) poplar and willow stands as well as residues from natural forests and from traditional poplar plantations. The evaluation has been performed by applying Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method and an attributional cradle-to-gate approach has been followed. The expected savings of greenhouse gases emission and fossil fuels demand have been quantified, as well as derived emissions of toxic pollutants and substances responsible for acidification, eutrophication and photochemical oxidant formation. The results have been also compared with the conventional Italian scenario considering the current Italian electricity profile and heat production from natural gas. Among the different scenarios, due to the lower transport distance, the use of biomass from traditional poplar plantation residues shows the lowest impact. The biomass combustion emissions are the main hotspot for several evaluated impact categories (e.g., particulate matter formation, human toxicity). In fact, when the produced bio-energy is compared to the reference system (i.e., electricity produced under the Italian electric profile) the results do not favor bio-energy systems. The results reported in this study support the idea that forest residues would be an interesting and potential feedstock for bio-energy purposes although further research is required specifically with the aim of optimizing biomass supply distances.

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BLOG_Two interesting activities of the RoadToBio project!

Nine identified bio-based opportunities for the Chemical Industry

In the BBI-funded project RoadToBio with the main goal to develop a Roadmap to show the path to increase the bio-based share up to 25%  in the chemical industry until 2030, nine business cases that exemplify the possibilities for the chemical industry to produce more bio-based products have been identified. For further information please follow the link and listen to a webinar held by the consortium on July 11 to present these business cases.

Link: https://www.roadtobio.eu/index.php?page=webinars

 

Survey “Key barriers and hurdles on bio-based products – what is your opinion?”

RoadToBio wants to offer you the possibility to express your opinion on important barriers to bio-based products that hinder market uptake. Be part of the journey into a bioeconomy-based future. How? Complete the survey by the 31st August and return it back to the RoadToBio consortium.

For more information: https://www.roadtobio.eu/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=22&cntnt01origid=5&cntnt01returnid=5

First STAR-ProBio Focus Group Webinar

STAR-ProBio’s first Focus Group Webinar on Sustainability Assessment Factors for Bio-Based Products took place on January 29, 2018.

The discussion was moderated by Luana Ladu (TU Berlin) and comprised experts with a EU perspective and representatives from various stakeholder groups from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.

Five questions built the foundation for the discussions:

  • Which sustainability parameters/criteria should be considered by a sustainability assessment scheme for bio-based products?
  • Which factors should be mandatory in such a scheme and which ones should be voluntary?
  • Are particular parameters/criteria needed to assess specific bio-based products/product groups?
  • How should the compliance of these parameters be communicated to consumers?
  • Which particular needs regarding sustainability assessment parameters/criteria does your specific stakeholder group have?

The key conclusions of the event were summarized as follows:

1 Fossil-based products should be subject to the same sustainability criteria as bio-based products.

2 The only main difference for bio-based products is that the raw material is biomass. Therefore additional criteria regarding the production of biomass could/should be added.

3 Sustainability criteria for biomass for bio-based products should/could be similar to those applying to biomass for energy applications where binding criteria exist.

4 Regarding whether there should be a minimum percentage of bio-based content, different influencing factors have to be considered; in particular technology issues and consumers’ expectations.

5 Environmental criteria are more obvious than social and economic criteria.

6 The origin of biomass is also of importance (as shown by the bioenergy discussion).

7 Criteria that were explicitly referred to included: GHG emissions, bio-based content, and health-related aspects.

The results will enrich the current sources for the preparation of a Delphi survey and also support various other current project activities.

More Focus Group activities on specific stakeholder- and product-related topics will take place within the duration of the project.