With the Bioeconomy Strategy, Europe aims to strengthen and boost biobased sectors. Therefore, investments in and markets of biobased value chains have to be unlocked and local bioeconomies have to be deployed. Compliance with environmental and social sustainability goals is on top of the agenda. The current biomass provision structures are unfit to take on the diversity of biomass residues and their respective supply chains and has difficulties to ensure the sustainability of feedstock supply in an ecological, social and economical fashion. A plethora of underutilized, non-commodity biomass resources is still not touched upon, which could become the feedstock basis for the circular bioeconomy of tomorrow. Therefore, feasible strategies for mobilizing and deploying local, low-value and heterogeneous biomass resources have to be addressed.
This paper builds upon the work of the IEA Bioenergy Task 40 experts, who transfer and extend their knowledge on current bioenergy carrier provision structures to the local, low-value feedstock base of the circular bioeconomy . It aims to cluster mobilization measures into three assessment levels: the legislative framework, technological innovation and market creation. The challenges and opportunity of the three assessment levels point towards a common denominator: the quantification of the systemic value of strengthening the primary economic sectors, forestry, agriculture and aquaculture, is missing. With the eroding importance of other primary economic sectors, including fossil fuel extraction and minerals mining, the time is now to assess and act upon the value of the supply-side of a circular bioeconomy. Especially in the provision of local and low-value (residual) biomass resources, the bioeconomy can support structurally weak and rural regions by creating meaningful jobs and activities and strengthening the resource democratic significance of rural areas.
- The bioeconomy needs to look further than current biomass provision structures and consider mobilizing local, low-value and heterogeneous biomass resources.
- The quantification of the systemic value of strengthening the potentially last remaining primary economic sectors, forestry, agriculture and aquaculture, is missing.
- Physical- and virtual bio-hubs and market platforms are required to connect the highly diverse supply side of biomass resources with the demand side for biomaterials and bioenergy.
- Strategic planning should therefore account for multiple assessment criteria and objective functions, based on all types of resources, including monetary-, natural-, CO2-budget- but also human resources.