Why some countries are more and some less successful in utilising BIOMASS, the oldest source of energy used by the mankind? Everybody knows that the South-east Europe is very rich in forest – in Croatia, for example, forest land covers 43.5 % of state territory and with 0.51 hectare of forests per capita Croatia may be considered as a European country with significant forest area. Bioenergy in its traditional forms is still very important source of energy in Croatia and most of South-East European countries but greater uptake of modern bioenergy technologies is still missing!
Why biomass is still undiscovered land among other renewable energy sources in South-east Europe? Many studies have been done; many projects have been completed during past decades but still biomass projects are rare species.
Is there a simple answer why? The answer could be (surprisingly!) simple – biomass projects need biomass! Unlike other renewables, simple investment and building an energy plant is not enough here – one would also need an efficient, robust and sustainable biomass supply chain, this could be the answer!
A new project – Sustainable Regional Supply Chains for Woody Bioenergy (in short BioRes financed through EU Horizon 2020 Programme) aims to establish and strengthen domestic supply chains for quality controlled woody bioenergy products in Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia by means of promoting and implementing an innovative concept of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs) to increase biomass market uptake. The project plans to utilise experience from technology leaders from Europe, in particular Austria, Slovenia, Germany and Finland.
Depending on the scope of its actions, a BLTC can be a marketing and sales platform, managing the trading of biomass without any physical infrastructure. At a more mature stage of business development a BLTC can also have its own logistics system with trucks and storage boxes, and its own production facilities that refine and modify the biomass into different types of biofuels of higher quality for energetic purposes, either heat or electricity. It sounds very simple and straightforward, isn’t it?!
The specific objectives of BioRES projects include development of a total of at least 6 – 8 new BLTCs distributed over at least 2 of the 3 countries (Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia), developed on web-based, shop-based or investment stage for physical infrastructure, on the basis of innovative community-based or community supported business models.
Based on this BioRES concept, a number of BLTC already started to develop in Croatia based on a different business structures. In some cases they will be operated in a public-private partnership, or by an individual private shareholder/ investor, in other cases by a public authority directed by the municipality. Experts in the field already recognised that BLTC’s could be a long waited missing links and the current expectations are really high. Seven concrete and promising BLTC concepts already started – most of them in the north-west Croatia, an area of Croatia with the most dynamic bioenergy activity.
If the BioRES project objectives are to be achieved in Croatia (also in Bulgaria and Serbia), this would certainly have implications to wider South-east European area like Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, FYR of Macedonia, Greece, Ukraine and beyond. This will finally represents a significant shift with regards to the old view in which biomass was viewed as a non-commercial rural source, or poor man’s fuel.
A benefit from such development is clear and would be very visible. For Croatia and most of the South-east Europe, most major challenges – security of energy supply, investment/economic growth and climate change mitigation are connected and can be linked with sustainable biomass sector development.
Bioenergy as the most labour-intensive renewable energy technology with a high employment-creation potential can certainly play an important role in overall energy and economic transition of the South-east Europe. The future for biomass (finally!) looks very bright.
Blogpost and photo submitted by Dr Julije Domac (REGEA – North-west Croatia Regional Energy Agency, Croatia) – jdomac(at)regea.org
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