How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment

26.06.2006

European Environment Agency

Increasing the use of renewable energies offers significant opportunities for Europe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure its energy supply. However, the substantial rise in the use of biomass from agriculture, forestry and waste for producing energy might put additional pressure on farmland and forest biodiversity as well as on soil and water resources. It may also counteract other current and potential future environmental policies and objectives, such as waste minimisation or environmentally-oriented farming. 

The purpose of this report is to assess how much biomass could technically be available for energy production without increasing pressures on the environment. As such, it develops a number of environmental criteria for bioenergy production, which are then used as assumptions for modelling the primary potential. These criteria were developed on a European scale. Complementary assessments at more regional and local scale are recommended as a follow-up of this work. Further analysis is also needed to take into account the impacts of climate change on the availability of bioenergy, which was beyond the scope of this study.