Methodology to arrive at comparable quantities:

The methodologies of BioTrade2020plus project are developed to estimate sustainable lignocellulosic biomass value chains. The aims are to elaborate comprehensive and simple methodologies to assess sustainable lignocellulosic biomass value for business as usual and optimistic scenarios in three timelines: current situation, short term 2020 and medium term 2030 to:

a)         Investigate sustainable biomass potentials from outside the EU continent both in selected developing and industrialised regions

b)         Design optimal supply chains for global lignocellulosic biomass trade

Methodology approach is based on key principles:

  • Sustainable lignocellulosic sourcing is a precondition for all imported biomass to the EU, and for all domestically sourced biomass, the same principles and criteria are to be applied
  • Lignocellulosic biomass for local demand gets priority over export. Thus, domestic demand should be met before exploring exporting options. The team recognizes the limitation of this approach but considers key to satisfy local demands first.
  • When applying performance-based sustainability requirements (e.g. GHG, efficiency), these need to be based on the full value chains (including production and logistics)
  • Resource efficiency should be required as a basic principle (e.g. minimum overall efficiency), for locally produced and imported feedstock

The general methodologies aim to deliver guidelines in assessing sustainable biomass feedstocks, market segment, determining interaction between local demand for energy and other uses and designing supply chain of biomass and projections applied in all selected sourcing regions.

Besides the methodologies, there are spread sheets for data collection, which are linked to the guidelines of this document to achieve data needed for the sustainable biomass potential assessment.

Scenario approach

Scenarios play a key role in all steps of the sustainable biomass potential assessment. To reflect possible changes in local and global biomass market and trade in the future, scenarios are developed to mark the landscape of biomass flows globally and regionally as well as its drivers at different periods. The project aims to focus on three timelines: current situation (2015), short term (2020) and medium term (2030).




This is the on-going situation of biomass trade at the current socio-economic development and environmental concerns. It takes into account domestic production and consumption of lignocellulosic biomass feedstock, import and export data of biomass in order to understand the biomass flow both at national and global level

When data at current situation is not available, statistics from previous years are considered, e.g. 2010, 2011 or 2012.


This scenario looks at the short term potentials of lignocellulosic biomass, its supply and demand taking into account foreseen socio-economic development, deployment of innovative pre-treatment technologies and newly implemented climate, energy and environmental policies


The medium term scenario anticipates further prospective economic growth, social changes and climate change impacts, more matured pre-treatment technologies and related future policies.

Global scenarios are consulted from IEA and OECD publications and relevant reports on renewable energy demand and supply to estimate by top-down approach the global biomass production, consumption and trade up to 2030 and indicate biomass potentials from different regions by aggregate statistics. Information from these references will be used as a guide for the development of scenarios for the case study countries, also to ascertain (a minimum level of) consistency between the case studies.

National scenarios are based on national statistics (bottom-up approach) on current production and consumption of lignocellulosic biomass as well as on other related reports on a number of technological, institutional and social drivers such as land use and efficiency in agricultural and forestry productions, land management at different timelines. For the short and medium term, scenarios need to be developed to anticipate the possible trends and changes of local lignocellulosic biomass production and consumption, costs and quantities of biomass trade and reflect market adjustment due to related policies and regulations.





The business-as-usual scenario reflects biomass production and consumption at national levels at current pace and builds on current and expected policies in energy, climate and environmental etc. which are already come into effect in the EU, in the sourcing regions and possible in other world regions

Optimistic Scenario

The Optimistic Scenario will explore options under which larger volumes of sustainably produced biomass might become available for export. These may include an assessment of the possibilities to increase the yield of both dedicated biomass production for energy, agricultural and forestry yields in general, effective land management and subsequent additional land availability for biomass production; it also envisages more vigorous policy developments in energy, climate and environment sectors.  The optimistic scenario will build amongst other inputs on a scenario presented in the World Energy Outlook 2012 and 2013 that sets out an energy pathway consistent with the goal of limiting the global increase in temperature to 2°C by limiting concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to around 450 parts per million of CO2.


A number of key drivers such as land use change, demographics, consumption patterns and GDP, which impact biomass potential assessments in the case study regions in the BAU and Optimistic scenarios, are difficult to anticipate, and according to van der Hilst [19], the developments in these main drivers should be kept equal to the two scenarios, that implies population, GDP, diet and SSR will change over time, but that the rate of change is equal for the two scenarios. Other parameters such as farming practices, technological adoption, and agricultural yield reflecting technological, institutional and societal changes might be different and possibly indicate higher values in Optimistic scenario.

Assessment of Sustainable Lignocellulosic Biomass Value Chains

Figure 1 illustrates the methodology approach to assess sustainable lignocellulosic biomass value chains. The first 8 steps from the selection of case studies to the net sustainable potential to be exported to the EU-28 are assessed in the international sourcing regions where biomass feedstocks are produced, consumed and one part is technologically treated to meet export requirements. After the selection of case studies, the technical potential of lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks is estimated based on how much resources could be available under technological possibilities. Sustainable potential is the next step which is considered under sustainability criteria. Market potential refers to the share of sustainable potential which meets economic criteria within given conditions (e.g. competition with fossil fuels and assumed carbon prices) [1]. Local demands are considered to calculate the sustainable feedstock surplus in step 6. Global demand and supply of biomass is also investigated to identify possibilities of export biomass surplus to ultimately decide the net sustainable potential to be exported to the EU. 

Each step in the Figure 1 describes the aim of the step, the method to carry out the works, the required data and how to access to data sources as well as expected outcomes of the step.

Figure 1 Assessment of Sustainable Lignocellulosic Biomass Value Chains

Step 9 and 10 focus on the supply chain management of sustainable lignocellulosic biomass. Step 9 includes biomass characteristics, pre-treatment technology, and design of transport route to finally reach the demand-supply cost curve and greenhouse gas emissions estimation in the supply chain in step 10. In this stage where supply chain issues and projection are considered, inputs from the first 8 steps are used. The BIT-UU model available at Utrecht University will be used to calculate the optimal route from various sourcing regions to the final destination. It also can evaluate different pathways to reduce cost and greenhouse gas emissions in the whole supply chain of lignocellulosic biomass, e.g. the effects of using larger vessels.

The assessment of sustainable lignocellulosic biomass feedstock in sourcing regions is based partly on the country statistics and data published by FAOSTAT and other GIS sources where applicable. Most important data are gathered by project partners, MSc. students of Utrecht University or local interns in those selected countries. Questionnaires are also circulated to other project partners and external stakeholders particularly in sourcing regions for further data gathering and consultation; a combination of methods is applied in order to have the best available and validated information. The current local supply and demand of biomass resources for food, fodder, fibre, biomaterials and domestic energy purposes in these regions are calculated taking into account social-economic development and stability and market information.