30 May 2023
 | 30 May 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Temporal and spatial mapping of theoretical biomass potential across the European Union

Susann Günther, Tom Karras, Friederike Naegeli de Torres, Sebastian Semella, and Daniela Thrän

Abstract. With the increasing challenge to shift our economic system from carbon to renewable energy carriers the demand for biogenic resources is growing. Biogenic municipal waste, agricultural by-products and industrial residues are under-utilised but are increasingly gaining in value. To date, there is no continuous database for these resources in the EU-27 countries. Existing datasets that estimate resource potentials in a single time step often lack validation. A reliable and continuous database is thus needed to support the growing bioeconomy.

Spatial and temporal high-resolution data of biogenic residues serve as an invaluable resource for identifying areas with significant theoretical biomass potential and allows an in-depth understanding of dynamic patterns over time. This study elucidates the theoretical biomass potentials of 13 distinct biomasses from municipal waste, agricultural by-products and industrial residues quantified annually from 2010–2020. The spatial scope of the research covers the EU-27 Member States incorporating all entities represented at various levels within the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) as delineated by Eurostat, where possible. The regionalised data are subsequently validated against national statistics. The findings demonstrate the feasibility of creating a time series of theoretical biomass potentials for the 13 selected waste types, by-products, and residues, and underscore the critical role of data validation when regionalising national or sub-national data to smaller NUTS entities. It could be shown that the values of small regions (NUTS 3) correlated well on average. When looking at individual regions in detail, regional characteristics such as the location of cultivation, waste management or reporting methods could lead to over- or underestimates of up to 100 %. Therefore, data at the regional level provide only limited information. In the case of industrial residues regionalisation gave good results localising preference regions of high theoretical biomass potential but more data on industrial production are needed to estimate also residual quantities at subnational and local levels.

Biomass potentials modelled in this study are published in an open access database, which is designed as an extensible tool, enabling the understanding of national and regional trends of theoretical biomass potentials in the European Union and of the reliability of the regionalised data.

The estimated theoretical potential dataset can be downloaded free of charge from: (Günther et al., 2023).

Susann Günther et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-179', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Jul 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2023-179', Matthew Langholtz, 13 Aug 2023
  • AC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-179', Susann Günther, 11 Sep 2023

Susann Günther et al.

Data sets

Theoretical biomass potentials for EU 27 Susann Günther, Tom Karras, and Sebastian Semella

Susann Günther et al.


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Short summary
The following study has been undertaken to provide a continuous open access data set for 2010–2020 from country to local level. In order to understand the reliability of the final data set and to enable further use, the modelled data were validated against statistics, which is a novelty in this field. The data set has shown to be in good agreement with the statistical data. Biomass potentials modelled in this study are published in an open access database.