Biomass logistics chains

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Economic, environmental and social aspects of the energy crop biomass logistics chain are addressed in this part. The project partners developed a model of the supply-chain to integrate and optimize the logistics system by choosing among different technology options. These include transport routes, storage sites, pre-conditioning and processing technologies (e.g. pelletization or briquetting), harvesting (cutting date, type of technology used), type of feedstock (grassy or woody). The model takes into account the technical interdependencies between different options (the fact that some of the alternatives along the chains are related or incompatible) as well as the requirements of the biomass conversion plant.

Potential and sustainability with respect to the three aspects were studied separately by developing and using different relevant methodologies and models. Thus, the three aspects were addressed in four tasks comprising: development of a set of methodologies that form one single methodology together and the use of this methodology to analyse, optimize and assess logistics for energy crops biomass.

  1. Economic optimization: development and use of an optimization model for the whole supply chain from farm to end-user that optimizes the activities of the supply chain given an economic criteria (e. g. maximize profit or minimize costs). Seasonal variations and uncertainty are explicitly taken into account.
  2. Environmental assessment: analysis of the environmental impacts generated by the different biomass logistics systems, with a specific focus on energy, material, water and land use, GHG emissions, eutrophication, acidification and ecotoxicity. Impacts were calculated following the framework of LCA and SUMMA/LCA.
  3. Social assessment: the social sustainability of alternative logistics systems was assessed, focusing on, job creation, quality of life, equity, diversity, social mixing/cohesion, participation/governance and maturity, as well as barriers and potentials for innovation. Key methods included input/output analysis and qualitative institutional analysis centered on the concepts of economic, social and cultural capital.
  4. Overall assessment of project case-studies and recommendations: detailed definition of the two cases and relevant subcases/scenarios. Synthesizing the economic, environmental and social assessments of the cases/scenarios and making recommendations regarding the biomass logistics system.