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Advanced biomaterials scenarios for the EU28 up to 2050 and their respective biomass demand

Schipfer, Fabian, Kranzl, Lukas, Leclère, David, Sylvain, Leduc, Forsell, Nicklas, Valin, Hugo
Biomass and bioenergy 2017 v.96 pp. 19-27
European Union, biobased products, biocompatible materials, biodegradability, bioeconomics, bioenergy, biomass, bitumen, carbon, climate change, energy, feeds, feedstocks, foods, fossils, monitoring, polymers, surfactants, sustainable development
In order to reach sustainable development, the EU plans to expand the production of renewable resources and their conversion into food, feed, biobased products and bioenergy. Therefore also advanced biobased products like e.g. polymers are discussed to substitute their fossil based counterparts which are highly relevant commodities in terms of volumes. The present paper aims to assess the magnitudes of possible substitution shares as well as their implications on biomass demand in the EU28. Therefore scenarios are calculated based on a top-down estimation of current fossil based- and a literature analysis on biobased capacities, respective expectations and targets. Demands for biogenic building blocks are derived using conversion efficiencies and finally energy contents of underlying biogenic carbon carriers are calculated which could be deployed either for energy or material utilisation. We find lowest substitution potentials for biobased surfactants and highest for biodegradable polymers as well as potentials in a same order of magnitude for more durable polymers and biobased bitumen. Compared to average literature estimates for moderate and ambitious bioenergy scenarios, material utilisation could reach up to 4% and 11% shares in 2050 in a joint biobased subsector respectively. However, our scenarios are based on relatively poor data availability. Clearer definitions of products and feedstocks are needed, official monitoring has to be implemented, EU wide substitution targets must be set and pre-treatment and conversion technologies have to be introduced and diffused if we want to discuss and trigger climate change mitigation effects of this bioeconomy subsector in the upcoming decades.