Sustainable biomass markets and international bioenergy trade to support the biobased economy

Countries Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA


Dr Martin Junginger
Copernicus Institute, Section E&R
Van Unnikgebouw
Heidelberglaan 2
The Netherlands

Tel:  +31-(0)30-2537613
Fax:  +31-(0)30-2537601


Assistant Task Leaders

Mr Peter-Paul Schouwenberg (Administration)
RWE Generation HardCoal
Gas and Biomass Continental Europe
4931 NC Geertruidenberg
The Netherlands

Tel:  +31 (0)6 11513528 (mobile)


Task Secretary

Thuy Mai-Moulin


1.         Rationale and Objectives

(a)  Rationale

In the past decade, international bioenergy trade of both solid and liquid biofuels has shown high growth rates – the total trade volume of major bioenergy commodities such bioethanol (used for fuel), biodiesel and wood pellets have all increased by a factor of 10 or more between 2000 and 2010 (Lamers et al, 2011, 2012). Total international trade volumes of liquid biofuels exceeded 200 PJ in 2010; the trade of solid biomass trade exceeded 300 PJ. This increasing demand has triggered a debate on the sustainable production of biomass. However, international bioenergy trade – if done right – can have important benefits in terms of:

  • Socio-economic development, and
  • Sustainable management and the rational use of natural resources.

Bioenergy markets are about to change. The current increasing demand for biomass is creating opportunities for exporting regions of traditional fuels, such as Brazil (ethanol), Argentina, Malaysia and Indonesia (biodiesel and vegetable oils) and Canada, the US and Russia (wood pellets).  It is clear that major supply and demand regions are geographically separated, which means that global bioenergy trade will play a major role to match supply and demand. Also the required investments into mobilisation of resources (including the production of biomass, development of infrastructure and distribution hubs etc.) need to be investigated thoroughly.

(b) Objectives

The core objective of the Task is ‘to support the development of sustainable, international bioenergy markets and international trade, recognising the diversity in resources and biomass applications’.

2.         Scope of the Task


(a)     The Participants will have R&D, dissemination programmes, and relevant activity within their countries in order to meet the above objective;

(b)     The Participants will carry out co-operative research work towards reaching the objective described in paragraph 1(b) above, based on the national programmes referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above;


(c)          The proposed work programme consists of the following five topics:

  1. Mobilisation of sustainable biomass resources for the international market across different regions in 
the world.
  2. Analysis of the future market demand for biomass from the broader biobased economy perspective.
  3. Sustainability and certification.
  4. Support of business model development for biomass supply and value chains.
  5. Assisting the development and deployment of advanced analysis tools to improve the understanding of 
potential future market developments, implications and impacts of policies.

Additional emphasis is put on biomass markets per se, along the traditional focus of Task 40 on international trade. Trade remains and essential component of the work, but in addition, this will require the understanding of demand and supply of biomass at the regional and national levels as well. The balance between opening up markets, removing barriers and at the same time building capacity to develop regional resources and demand is a challenge for entrepreneurs and policy makers and requires serious attention. Exchange of information on bioenergy experiences between parties and countries at different stages of market development can also be facilitated.