Agricultural waste contains energy and valuable nutrients (particularly N and P). It can therefore be used for energy production and as a valuable fertiliser.
Forest residues and saw dust are an important form of biomass waste. Wood may also be purpose grown for use as bioenergy feedstock.
Reusing agricultural waste as fertiliser increases the sustainability of agriculture by reducing the use of manufactured fertiliser and thereby increasing nutrient use efficiency. Composting and land application of crop residues, garden and food waste is well-established, as is the use of animal excreta.
The world’s first integrated industrial scale bio-oil combined heat and power (CHP) plant is currently being built in Joensuu (Finland). This power plant will produce heat, electricity and bio-oil. Bio-oil can be used instead of fossil fuels for district heating or in industry. In the future, other applications will be possible (bio-chemicals and traffic fuels). Compared to fossil fuels, use of bio-oils reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 70%.
For the forest sector, ‘smart use’ of biomass may be a threat to sustainability as well as an opportunity. European bodies are working on criteria and indicators of sustainability for biomass production in forestry.
Valerie theme leader: Frank de Ruijter