Biomass resources

Biomass resources include a wide variety of materials diverse in both physical and chemical properties. Depending on the application, these variations may be critical for the final performance of the system. In particular, some advanced applications require fairly narrow specifications for moisture, ash content, ash composition. Both the physical and chemical characteristics vary significantly within and between the different biomass raw materials.

However, biomass feedstocks are more uniform for some of their properties compared with competing feedstocks such as coal or petroleum. For example, coals show gross heating value ranges from 20 to 30 GJ/tonne. However, nearly all kinds of biomass feedstocks destined for combustion fall in the range 15-19 GJ/tonne for their LHV. The values for most woody materials are 18-19 GJ/tonne, while for most agricultural residues, the heating values are in the region of 15-17 GJ/tonne.

Some of Biomass resources classified according to the supply sector, as shown in the table below.

Supply sector Type Example
Forestry Dedicated forestry Short rotation plantations (e.g. willow, poplar, eucalyptus)
Forestry by-products Wood blocks, wood chips from thinnings
Agriculture  Dry lignocellulosic energy crops Herbaceous crops (e.g. miscanthus, reed canarygrass, giant reed) 
Oil, sugar and starch energy crops Oil seeds for methylesters (e.g. rape seed, sunflower)
Sugar crops for ethanol (e.g. sugar cane, sweet sorghum) 
Starch crops for ethanol (e.g. maize, wheat)
Agricultural residues Straw, prunings from vineyards and fruit trees
Livestock waste Wet and dry manure
Industry Industrial residues Industrial waste wood, sawdust from sawmills
Fibrous vegetable waste from paper industries
Waste Dry lignocellulosic Residues from parks and gardens (e.g. prunings, grass)
Contaminated waste Demolition wood
Organic fraction of municipal solid waste
Biodegradable landfilled waste, landfill gas
Sewage sludge



AEBIOM. 2017. European Biomass Association. Statistical report. European bioenergy outlook. Key findings, pp. 1-43.

Camia A., Robert N., Jonsson R., Pilli R., García-Condado S., López-Lozano R., van der Velde M., Ronzon T., Gurría P., M’Barek R., Tamosiunas S., Fiore G., Araujo R., Hoepffner N., Marelli L., Giuntoli J.,. 2018. Biomass production, supply, uses and flows in the European Union. First results from an integrated assessment, EUR 28993 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018, ISBN 978-92-79-77237-5, doi:10.2760/539520, JRC109869

FAO (2016). The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016. Contributing to food security and nutrition for all. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome. 200 pp.

García-Condado, S., López-Lozano, R., Nisini, L., Cerrani, I., Van der Velde, M., Baruth, B. (2017). Assessing EU crop residue production using empirical models of biomass partitioning. Part 2: current scenario and drivers of inter-annual variability in residue biomass production across EU. In preparation.