July 10, 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark - Scientists from University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University have published an extensive report that shows how the production of biomass can be increased by more than 200 per cent in an environmentally friendly way.
The report called “The ten-million-tonne plan ” shows how the Danish production of biomass from agriculture and forestry can be increased by 10 million tonnes per year without affecting the current production of feed and food.
"It sounds too good to be true, but it is quite realistic. By concentrating on a number of areas we can in practice double plant production and improve the utilization of existing resources so there is enough both for food and feed production and for an additional 10 million tonnes of biomass in 2020," says Morten Gylling, senior advisor at the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen.
The report contains a number of specific subelements that combined provide a solution for how we can use sustainable biology and technology to get an additional 10 million tonnes of biomass a year by 2020 without incorporating more agricultural land.
"One of the options is to double crop yield per hectare in selected areas. This can be done by converting to cropping systems with improved perennial crops and break crops to extend the growing season and thus more fully exploit the solar radiation. This will be sufficient to meet the requirements for both feed and food production and for the biomass production for a number of bio-friendly products," explains Uffe Jørgensen, senior scientist at Aarhus University.
The increased production of biomass means that it would be possible to establish a biorefinery sector in Denmark – a sector that is crucial for the establishment of a green growth economy in Denmark.
"A future Danish biorefinery sector would create around new 20,000 jobs in production and industry, primarily in the provinces," says Professor Claus Felby from University of Copenhagen.
"10 million tonnes of biomass actually corresponds to 20 percent of our current consumption of natural gas and to 30-50 percent of our consumption of petroleum and diesel. To this should be added a significantly higher feed production that to a large extent will be able to replace what we currently import from countries such as South America," says Claus Felby.
The results of the report also show that the aquatic environment will improve with a focus on biomass. The loss of nitrogen from farmland can be reduced by more than 20,000 tonnes.