With the EU Commission’s recommendation to all member countries to implement biomass action plans and with the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, biomass is expected to contribute considerably to the goal of 20% share of renewable energy sources (RES) in energy supply in Europe by 2020. Already now the demand for biomass is increasing significantly. Opposed to other RES, biomass is limited. This may well lead to unsustainable intensified agricultural production and as well to rising imports of “cheap” biomass, in some cases over long distances. Presently the competition of biomass use for food/fodder, material use in industry and for energy production is definitely increasing. Hence, “sustainability” and “competition of use” become important issues that have to be addressed on practical and on policy level. Particularly in Central European region the potential of biomass for energy is estimated to be high – especially when including Ukraine into the calculations. This offers of course bright perspectives for agriculture and forestry, as well as for development in rural areas. However, unsustainable exploitation of biomass should be avoided, hence, coordinated transnational action securing sustainable methods for energy production, usage and trade is needed.
One of the core results of the project was the elaboration of a Transnational Action Plan for Central Europe(TAP; http://www.4biomass.eu/document/file/transnational-action-plan-4biomass.pdf) which is supposed to support policy makers in the region in their decisions for sustainable development of biomass. The recommendations of the TAP are based on the country studies for all 4Biomass countries, a stakeholder dialogue based on a questionnaire on the outcomes of the particular National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the countries, and the study tours in the countries to show good practice examples for bioenergy production and usage.
Within the 4BIOMASS project a unique political partnership in Central Europe was created. At the final conference in Berlin on 21 March, 2012, eight biomass/bioenergy experts from eight Central European countries (ministries, associations, research and economy) have signed a Joint Declaration on consideration of the recommendations of the TAP in their work. Thus, a coordinated coherent political decision process and good governance structures in Central Europe have been initiated.
With the appointment of eight Central European Bioenergy Centres (CEBCs) so far – further applications for nomination have been received – a bioenergy competence network for Central Europe has been created. These centres exchange their information and experience, they provide the national ministries with information and knowledge for their political decisions, and they support regional and local private and public stakeholders with know-how for their business investments. Disseminating information on good practice demonstration cases will help to find tailor-made solutions for investment into sustainable bioenergy production, usage and transport. Such a competence network does not exist so far in Central Europe.