Open up Austria's biomass potential till 2050

Development of an optimal strategy to open up Austria's biomass potential until the year 2050. The optimal strategy maximizes the reduction of GHG emissions. Provision of an action plan for a temporal dynamic implementation of this strategy.

Short Description




There are plenty of options for the energetic use of biomass: Based on a wide variety of resources, there are numerous technologies to provide energy services with biomass. Each utilization path is characterized by specific costs and energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) balances. The objective of this project was to assess costs and GHG emission reductions which are connected with an enhanced use of bioenergy in Austria in different long-term scenarios. Starting with analyses of the historic use of bioenergy in Austria, of the available resource potentials and a techno-economic comparison of bioenergy technologies, we have developed various long-term scenarios for the Austrian bioenergy sector up to the year 2050 with the dynamic simulation tool Green-XBio-Austria. The scenarios which have been simulated for both high- and low-price scenarios show the effects of different promotion schemes with respect to costs, GHG mitigation and other parameters.

By utilizing domestic biomass resources, the following shares of bioenergy in the total primary energy consumption are achieved in the scenarios: In the No-policy scenarios (no subsidies for bioenergy), the biomass share is moderate; even if we assume a substantial increase of fossil fuel prices, bioenergy accounts for less than 15 % of the total energy demand over the whole period (The shares stated here only include domestic biomass excluding solid municipal wastes and black liquor. The report also includes analyses about the possible impact of biomass imports).1 By subsidizing the use of bioenergy, its share can be increased significantly. The main influencing factors are the developments of fossil fuel prices and of the total energy demand. Only by implementing both attractive bioenergy promoting schemes and ambitious energy efficiency measures, the proportion of biomass in the total primary energy consumption can be increased to more than 15 % in 2020 and more than 20 % in 2050 (by drastically reducing the energy consumption, the share can even amount to up to 30 %). In the scenarios, the biomass primary energy consumption increases from about 120 PJ (2005)1 to 260 to 290 PJ/a in the year 2050. Assuming ambitious bioenergy promotion schemes, the achievable GHG mitigation accounts for 11 to 12 Mt CO2 equ./a in 2020 and up to 15 Mt CO2 equ./a in 2050. (Of course, in this connection the choice of the reference systems is critical.) The most significant differences in the simulation results concern the GHG mitigation costs: With an enhanced use of biomass for heat (and to some extent heat and power) generation, considerable cost savings can be achieved compared to the fossil-fuelled reference systems, whereas the promotion of biofuels in the transport sector is connected with high costs of GHG mitigation, even on the long term.

Regarding a long-term strategy for the optimal use of bioenergy, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  • In 2050 there will still be a substantial demand for low-temperature heat, which can not be solely covered with solar heating systems. Considering generation costs and greenhouse gas emissions, a high share of biomass heat should be the target.
  • The combined heat and power production should be promoted under the precondition of a high rate of waste heat utilization.
  • Considering the high costs and moderate GHG mitigation as well as the limited resources, a focus of bioenergy promotion on the transport sector is not recommended.
  • On the long term, research and technology development are crucial for increasing the overall efficiency of the bioenergy sector, and therefore should be promoted
  • An increasing competition between the energetic and the non-energetic use of biomass resources as well as a rising overall demand for energy can be expected for the years to come. Hence, measures to significantly decrease energy and resource consumption are most crucial.

Project Partners

Project management

Lukas Kranzl, Reinhard Haas
TU-Wien, Institut für Elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft (EEG)

Project collaborator

  • Gerald Kalt, Friedrich Diesenreiter
    TU-Wien, Institut für Elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft (EEG)
  • Ludger Eltrop, Andreas König
    Institut für Energiewirtschaft und rationelle Energieanwendung (IER)
  • Pasi Makkonen
    Technical Research Center of Finland, VTT Processes (VTT)

Project partners

  • Institut für Energiewirtschaft und rationelle Energieanwendung, Stuttgart
  • Technical Research Center of Finland

Contact Address

Technische Universität Wien, Institut für elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft, Energy Economics Group
Gußhausstraße 25-29/373-2
A- 1040 Wien
Tel.: +43 1 58801-37351
Fax: +43 1 58801-37397