International Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V.

 

Environmental Sustainability

Climate protection: The use of biomass to produce bio-based products or for obtaining energy have a large sustainability potential, because in principle it is beneficial to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2 emissions. However, this is sometimes undermined if generating and processing the biomass itself entails a major expenditure of energy (covered by fossil-based sources) or if, in order to create space for the cultivation of the biomass, jungles are cleared and swamps are drained, thereby releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases. Under some circumstances, these quantities are greater than the savings of no longer using fossil-based products and fuels. As a consequence, the use of bio-based products and bioenergy must match certain framework conditions that need to be critically challenged and monitored continuously.

Diversity of species: The same applies here – subject to having the right framework conditions, bio-based products and bioenergy have the potential to contribute to the diversity of species. After all, the wide range of energy crops and other renewable natural resources is significantly greater than the current, rather limited spectrum of plants used for food and animal feed production.

Substances hazardous to the environment:  As a general observation, biomass is less toxic and hazardous to the environment than fossil based natural resources, but in a particular situation the issue is always how it is being used. Yet here also, through technical development and appropriate framework conditions, sustainability can constantly be further enhanced, step-by-step – thus, for example, modern wood-fuelled heating systems are emitting much less particulate matter and due to what by now is the legally-binding obligation to seal the post digester gas-tight, the ammonia emissions from biogas plants are prevented to a large degree.

 

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(Source: © FNR / Lydia Pohlan)