Sustainable Biomass Markets and International Trade to support the biobased economy

On-going projects

Intertasks project: Measuring, governing and gaining support for sustainable bioenergy supply chains

Companies’ and people’s attitudes towards sustainability governance of biomass and bioenergy and their willingness to accept such measures as documentation of sustainability will depend on 1) legitimacy in design of the governance system; input legitimacy relates to quality of stakeholder involvement, and output legitimacy to the effectiveness with which a system achieves sustainability goals, 2) the trust in those systems, including a) the perceived legitimacy, b) transparency at all levels, for example regarding progress made towards sustainability, c) the extent to which companies believe that other companies are
willing to engage, and d) the degree to which people governing and implementing such systems are considered trustworthy, depending for example on possible historical incidences of corruption and fraud associated with such systems. Based on this perspective, the project aims: to provide an overview of calculation methods & tools to assess the sustainability of various biomass and bioenergy supply chains and discuss needs, possibilities and limitations of a global, uniform/harmonized framework; to compare and assess the legitimacy, including effectiveness and efficiency of a variety of approaches on how to govern and verify sustainability of biomass and bioenergy supply chains in different conditions; and to understand the positions and underlying motivations of stakeholder groups relative to their perceptions of bioenergy and inform dialogues/discussions to avoid misconceptions and gain trust in bioenergy sector.


Prof. Dr. Martin Junginger
Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, the Netherlands


Update study of International energy biomass trade

One of the key objectives of Task 40 is to facilitate the development of international biomass market. When all types of biomass are taken into account, the biomass market is a complex entity. Biomass is harvested for various end-use purposes (food, raw-material and energy) and it is traded in various forms (raw, processed or within products). As Task 40 focuses on biomass markets, updated information on the development of the biomass trade for energy (including the total trade volume and trade volumes of most important energy biomass streams) is of importance. Reliable public statistics on the global trade of biomass for energy purposes are not easily accessed nor available although a number of organizations collect and publish statistics at a regular basis.

Since the establishment of the Task 40, international biomass trade streams and volumes have been investigated occasionally by Task 40 members. The last analysis was published in 2013. The objective of the study is to update the energy biomass trade stream figures up to the year 2015 and also to consider the need to update the methodologies applied in the past studies.


Dr. Jussi Heinimo
Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd  


Global wood pellet industry – market and trade study 2016

The global wood pellet market has experienced an enormous growth in the last ten years. This study expands further the 2011 research on Global Wood Pellet Industry Market and Trade Study, investigating the current developments of the global wood pellet market, the wood pellet industry and market in various continents; discussing the challenges for a sustainable wood pellet trade and the sustainability along the supply chain as well as the transformation of wood pellets into a global commodity. The study also works on a global outlook of wood pellet production and consumption until 2025 including potential demand and supply.


Daniela Thran
UFZ Germany


Socio-economic assessment of two supply chains of imported biomass (pellets) to the EU: Brazil and the USA

Due to the EU objectives to reduce emissions under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) (EC, 2009) and the objectives of pushing forward the green economy in the EU, the biomass exports for electricity, heat and biomaterials is expected to increase in the next 20 years. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the main supply chains regarding environmental issues such as GHG emissions, land use, and indirect land use. Nevertheless, few studies have been conducted to better understand the socio-economic implications of this production and use for specific supply chains feeding the European market and, in particular, assessing the impacts on smallholders or on communities. The Overseas Development Institute (Locke and Henley 2014) indicated that a starting point for assessing socio-economic impacts would be to use a different analytical framework to assess the balance and the distribution of different impacts on (socio-economic) issues with comparison points. It also recommended using more data from baseline surveys and longitudinal studies that allow comparison before-and-after impacts and comparison over time and across target populations.

To tackle this knowledge gap, this project proposes to conduct a detailed assessment of socio-economic impacts of biomass production and conversion supply chain with the EU biomass market target. Two case studies will be developed: one for Brazil, a potential supplier of solid biomass, and the other for the US, which is the largest exporter to the EU. A framework to conduct the study will be developed and an assessment of the socio-economic impacts based on previous work conducted by the researchers.


Rocio A Diaz-Chavez
Imperial College London


Biomass prices as drivers for trade

International trade streams of solid and liquid bioenergy commodities exhibited significant growth in the past decade. While the main drivers for their absolute increases are policy induced, drivers for particular developments of trade streams between regions have to be examined in more detail. Assuming the Pareto efficiency concept playing a major role in resource allocation between countries, in this project we will develop a model in order to explain the role of regional biomass price differences as a driver for trade between those regions. Statistical import and export data is correlated with commodity prices within the investigated regions, taking into account interregional transport costs.

The key objectives are to investigate biomass price differences as drivers for trade, taking into account interregional transport costs.


Fabian Schipfer
Vienna University of Technology, Austria