A very recent sensationalist study from NGO Birdlife indirectly suggests to keep existing monocultures in Europe and fossil energy sources. We suggest a greener scenario where more perennial biomass crops will reduce carbon to imprtove a bio-based economy. Studies commissioned by NGOs warn EU demand for wood and energy crops will outstrip available resources and estimates only 1.3 million hectares for dedicated energy crops. The study can be downloaded here.
Previous studies from Environmental European Agency encourage more bioenergy crops and several organizations have established land potential higher than 15 million hectares for energy crops producing biomass. In Spain, local authorities estimated 4 million hectares for sustainable dedicated plantations for biomass.
Find 10 sound critics and mistakes we have identified for this “biased” report:
1) It never accounts for emissions in a scenario without needed biomass from energy crops (even when it is well accepted that a EU biobased economy can only achieve renewable energy targets if promotes energy crops).
2) It assumes permanent grasslands cannot produce feedstock for bioenergy including lignocellulosic biomass for 2nd generation bioethanol, briquettes and pellets for heat or power and many other sustainable biomaterials. However there is enough evidence worldwide that it can be cheapest source of biomass for energy.
3) It excluded several types of lands that were abandoned more than 5 years ago. In those lands there is only unemployment, abandonment and lack of competitiveness. Many of them are 1”% dependent on EU subsidies for rich families.
4) It doesn’t consider forestry and non wood fibers sinergies in a bio-based economy (e.g. pulp and bioenergy).
5) It assumes only one criteria for Land Use Changes effects with a non standarized procedure or accepted methodology for its calculation . Nontheless, there are many very recent studies showing the importance of co-products and difficulties to measure land use changes effects on greenhouse emissions.
6) No models are suggested or productivity scenarios nor comparisons with emissions derived for lack of a biobased economy. However it is very clear that residues are not enough and many perennial grasses or short rotation coppice alternatives can be only way to achieve bioenergy renewable goals in Europe.
7) No rotations or perennials are considered. If Europe continues subsidies to current monocultures in low competitive lands, with a clear trend to abandonment, soils are going to loss organic matter clearly.
8) The authords did not consider or account many kinds of land succestible of being reforested (even many degreaded lands are inside this group)
9) It never take into consideration that perennials and new forestry for biolmass can produce new habitats and benefits for birds, from dedicated perennial plantations and new forestry for a biobased economy.
10) It reflects and admit several methdological difficulties to account for fallow land in many member states and it assumes only 200.000 hectares possible to be used.
It is our conclusion that this study mainly focused on some lobbies and continue the current trend towards unemployment in rural areas, agriculture abandonment in southern member countries like Spain, Greece or Portugal and neglets the great potential of large areas in Poland.
Read also EEA study for the EUROPEAN COMMISSION: