Forschen • Ausbilden • Vernetzen
Für eine nachhaltige Bioökonomie

Forschen • Ausbilden • Vernetzen
Für eine nachhaltige Bioökonomie
SEED FUND Projekt Econ-BioSC

Biomass flows and technological innovation in the bioeconomy: A global scenario analysis 


In Econ-BioSC we accomplished a first step towards developing new quantitative tools to analyze the potential effects of bioeconomy-induced changes in global biomass trade on sensitive globally valued ecosystems, such as tropical forests. We expected such effects to arise mainly as a result of two bioeconomy-specific drivers, namely, (1) innovation and technology development that substitutes fossil by renewable sources, and (2), national and regional policy programs to promote bio-based transformations.

The development of quantitative modelling tools was embedded in a systematic review and analysis of the innovation landscape, particularly in the German bioeconomy. The results of this project are twofold. First, based on patent analyses we deliver an overview of technology development trends in the field of bioethanol. Second, we adopt a future oriented, and thus necessarily assumption driven impact assessment approach to study how current innovation trends (for example in the area of lignocellulosic ethanol) are likely to influence selected value chains over the coming years. The patent analyses revealed that technological development in lignocellulosic ethanol is diverse and addresses very different application fields. However, lignocellulosic ethanol production has not yet reached full commercialization. A technology roadmap to emphasize how technology, market, regulatory and value chain developments should be aligned to enhance commercialization will be finalized until the end of the project.

For scenario-based impact assessment we developed a new Multi-Region Input-Output model that represents biomass flows in both physical and monetary units. Preliminary analyses show, for example, that in 2010, 150 Million hectares of cropland, i.e. about 10% of the global cropland area, were cultivated for the production of crops for non-food uses. Biodiesel and other non-food uses of vegetable oils, for example from oil palms and soybeans, have increased sharply between 1995 and 2010 from 19.7 Mha to 45.4 Mha and make up for 30.2% of the cropland footprint of global non-food biomass consumption in 2010. In the EU-28, 20% of the cropland footprint, i.e. 23.9 Mha, is related to the consumption of non-food commodities. Our results suggest that these land footprints and their change over time increases biological species extinction risk in countries with vulnerable ecosystems, such as Brazil and Indonesia. Until the end of the project, such effects will be modelled using spatially explicit scenario analyses at the global scale.

Results from such integrated scenario analyses will enable us to understand the current developments with respect to conversion of different feedstocks into bioethanol and to anticipate the potential global environmental implications of bio-based transformations with greater detail and thus represent a valuable contribution by the BioSC. The tools and knowledge gained in the process have enabled the core-groups that participated in Econ-BioSC to secure significant follow-up funding to support a long-term research agenda on sustainability governance in the global bioeconomy.

Participating Core Groups (CG) and other partners

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jan Börner, Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bröring, Institute for Food and Resource Economics, Chair for Technology and Innovation Management in Agribusiness, University of Bonn

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Institut für Bio- und Geowissenschaften, Pflanzenwissenschaften (IBG-2), FZ Jülich

Contact person (coordinator):
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jan Börner
Center for Development Research (ZEF)
University of Bonn
Tel.: +49 228-73-1873
Fax.: +49 228-73-1869

Funding period

01.03.2015 – 29.02.2016


The total budget of Econ-BioSC is 149.730 Euro. Econ-BioSC is part of the NRW- Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.