Environmental Innovation Policy - Greater resource efficiency and climate protection through the sustainable material use of biomass

Michael Carus et al. (February 2014)

The research project was carried out on behalf of the German federal environmental agency from 2010 to 2013, led by nova-Institute GmbH in cooperation with the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, (IFEU), FiFo Institute for Public Economics at the University of Cologne (FiFo) and the Öko-Institute e.V.

For the first time, a project investigated the potential ecological and economic effects of an increased material use of biomass, and how this could contribute to the climate protection and resource conservation goals of the Federal Goverment.

Please find the final report in long and short versions (long version only available in German) as well as all additional texts and materials (only available in German, too).

... more Information and Downloads here


Distribution of biomass use worldwide 2008

nova-Institute (August 2013)

The three graphs show the distribution of biomass use in the world 2008, one case including agricultural and forestal biomass without grazing, one case including agricultural biomass without grazing and one case including agricultural biomass plus grazing.

Out of the 13 billion tons of biomass (FAO 2011) that are in total harvested from agriculture and forestry, the energetic and material uses of agricultural biomass only constitute 3% each and the use of wood by both sectors approximately 10% each. Together, that is only 26%. The shares of feed production (47 %) and food uses (26%) are much higher. The allocation of the biomass to the target product is done only by main product. This means that there can be by-products, which are used in other sectors.

When only looking at the harvested agricultural biomass (total: 10 billions of tons), the proportions get even more distinct. While the cultivation as renewable material for material as well as for energy uses only accounts for 4% each, almost two thirds of the overall amount go into the production of feed (60%), and 32% of all harvested agricultural biomass go to a direct use as food.

If the land covered by grazing cattle is taken into account as well, the overall amount of biomass increases to approx. 14 billion tons and the share of feed production even grows to as much as 71%. Energetic and material uses of biomass only make up 3% each.

Download Graphs (835 Downloads) (2013-08)


nova paper #2 on bio-based economy: "Food or non-food: Which agricultural feedstocks are best for industrial uses?"

Michael Carus (nova-Institute), Lara Dammer (nova-Institute) - (July 2013)

This position paper is a contribution to the recent controversial debate about whether food crops should be used for other applications than food and feed. It is based on scientific evidence and aims to provide a more realistic and appropriate view of the use of food-crops in bio-based industries, taking a step back from the often very emotional discussion.

Our position is that all kinds of biomass should be accepted for industrial uses; the choice should be dependent on how sustainably and efficiently these biomass resources can be produced.

By analysing food and feed demand, land- and resource efficiency, by-products use, flexibility in cases of emergency and also the level playing field between bio-based materials and energy, this paper comes to differentiated and fresh conclusions. It is supported by several associations and companies active in the bio-based economy.

Download nova paper #2 (2112 Downloads) (2013-07)
Download Press Release (1729 Downloads) (2013-07-17)

It is also a featured article in the August 2013 issue of Industrial Biotechnology.


World-wide Investments in Bio-based Chemicals

Michael Carus (nova-Institute) - (December 2012)

The table "World-wide Investments in Bio-based Chemicals" lists the most important investments that have been made in bio-based building blocks over the last seven years. It is the most comprehensive list that has been recently published on this issue – free of charge for you!

Download Report (4149 Downloads) (2012-12)


Bio-based Economy in the EU-27 - A first quantitative assessment of biomass use in the EU industry

Michael Carus (nova-Institute) - (August 2012)

The first ever collection and analysis of data on the bio-economy at an EU-27 level. It gives a rough overview of the quantitative dimensions of Europe's bio-based economy with a focus on industrial material use of biomass. It must be noted that there is a huge demand for research, seeing as basic data on this sector is mostly not available. This paper is only a first draft and needs to be extensively expanded and elaborated upon. It should be considered as a first step.

Call for Feedback: Any contributions that can help elaborating on this paper are most welcome. If you or your organisation has access to better and more detailed data on the mentioned sectors, please do not hesitate to contact us and let us know. This is a work in progress and we will be happy to include any new information.

... more Information here

Download Report (2061 Downloads) (2012-08)


Report "Industrial material use of biomass Basic data for Germany, Europe and the world"

Achim Raschka (nova-Institute), Michael Carus (nova-Institute) - (January 2012)

First part of the report on the R&D project "Environmental Innovation Policy: more efficient resource use and climate protection through sustainable material use of biomass"

... more Information here

Download Report (14549 Downloads) (2012-01-23)


Publication "Agricultural Resources for Bioplastics"

Michael Carus (nova-Institute), Achim Raschka (nova-Institute) - (December 2011)

... more Information here

Download Publication bioplastics MAGAZINE (2785 Downloads) (2011-12)


nova paper #1 on bio-based economy: Level Playing Field for Bio-based Chemistry and Materials

Michael Carus (nova-Institute), Dirk Carrez (Clever Consult), Harald Kaeb (narocon), Jan Ravenstijn (biopolymer consultant) and Joachim Venus (ATB) - (July 2011)

... more Information here

Download nova paper #1 (4831 Downloads) (2011-07-01)

Download Publication CHEManager Europe (external Link) (2011-09-07)


Study "The development of instruments to support the material use of renewable raw materials in Germany"

Michael Carus (nova-Institute), Achim Raschka (nova-Institute), Stephan Piotrowski (nova-Institute) - (May 2010)

... mehr Informationen hier

Download Short Version (11086 Downloads) (2010-10)
Download Long Version (5274 Downloads) (2010-11-08) - only German version available
Download Press Release (Status 2010-05-05) - only German version available

Further studies on this subject, to which the nova-Institut has contributed:

Position papers