What is a renewable resource

Bavarian State Office for
environment

What are renewable raw materials?

Renewable raw materials are organic substances of plant and animal origin that are used for energetic and material utilization outside the food and feed sector.

For the energetic utilization of renewable raw materials, the following plant raw materials are currently mainly grown or used:

  • Maize (mainly for use in biogas plants)
  • Rapeseed (mainly for the production of biodiesel)
  • Grain (mainly as whole plant silage for biogas plants)
  • Wood (mainly in the form of wood chips and pellets)

Renewable raw materials can fundamentally contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil raw materials. In addition, their use reduces the dependence on finite fossil resources.

Promotion and Development

The cultivation of renewable raw materials has increased significantly in recent years. That was the main reason for this sharp increase Renewable Energy Act, with the amendments of 2004 and 2009.

In Bavaria, the renewable raw materials are the mainstay of the energy supply from renewable energies. The share of biomass in the total contribution of renewable energies to primary energy consumption in Bavaria was around 70% in 2007 (Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology. Bavarian Energy Balance).

The private and commercial use of heat from wood and wood processing products (including wood chips and, in recent years, increasingly wood pellets) are the top priority. According to industry associations, 43% of all wood pellet heating systems sold in Germany are in Bavaria. The increased demand led to a strong expansion of the production capacities at the manufacturers, who now not only recycle waste from the sawmill industry, but also increasingly have to resort to wood chips from the forest.

In terms of area, biogas production plays a particularly important role among renewable raw materials in Bavaria. The number of biogas plants has almost doubled since 2004. There are now around 1,600 biogas plants in Bavaria (as of 2009). This corresponds to about a third of all systems in Germany. Biogas plants are mainly operated with maize silage, whereby other organic substances, in particular liquid manure, are used as a biogas substrate.

Effects on nature and landscape

The sharp increase in the cultivation and use of renewable raw materials harbors opportunities and risks for nature and the landscape. From a nature conservation perspective, the following positive effects can occur:

  • CO2-neutral energetic use. The CO2-Emissions from energetic use basically correspond to the proportion of CO2that the plant ingested during its growth. *
  • Reduction of the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides
  • Sensible energetic utilization of material (such as grassland growth, hedge cuttings) from landscape and biotope maintenance
  • Increasing the diversity of crop rotations and land uses (for example by cultivating old cultivars such as flax and flax; maintaining species-rich grassland, cultivating mixed crops such as sunflowers and maize)

* The energetic use of biomass is not completely climate-neutral, since energy-related CO2Emissions arise.

Possible negative effects of the cultivation of renewable raw materials can be:

  • Increasing the risk of damage to the soil structure, soil erosion, negative humus balance, nutrient input into bodies of water, reduction of biodiversity and the diversity of the cultivated landscape through the expansion of cultivated areas, especially of maize, and a further intensification of use.
  • Decline in biodiversity as a result of the intensification of areas, for example through the reallocation of set-aside areas, plowing of grassland and the loss of small structures in the agricultural field;
  • Use of habitats that are important in terms of nature conservation, for example through the cultivation of energy crops;
  • Monotonization of the landscape through large areas of Nawaros, for example maize;
  • Overprinting of traditional cultural landscapes;
  • Impairment of the recreational function of the landscape.

When assessing the positive and negative effects of the cultivation of renewable raw materials on nature and the landscape, there is basically no significant difference to conventional food and feed cultivation. The main problems are therefore not in the cultivation of energy crops themselves, but in the effects that arise with the intensification of land use. These include the areas of operating resources, narrowing crop rotation, increasing the frequency of use of grassland, use up to the boundaries of the district, re-cultivation of set-aside areas and plowing up grassland.

Recommendations for sustainable provision

The federal government has the sustainability requirements of the EU directive Renewable energy implemented in two ordinances that came into force in 2009. From July 1, 2010, energy producers must prove that the biomass used to generate electricity and fuel does not contribute to the destruction of ecologically valuable areas and that greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced through its use.

Beyond certification, however, there is a need for action at the regional level, especially if negative effects on nature and the landscape have already occurred. It is important to preserve a sufficiently large proportion of ecologically and culturally significant areas and to preserve the character of the landscape and its ecological functions. The plowing of grassland should be avoided if possible. Further possibilities to bring the concerns of energy production into harmony with the concerns of nature and landscape protection are the better utilization of materials from landscape maintenance as well as the utilization of residual and waste materials.

Agri-environmental measures such as the contractual nature conservation program (VNP) and the Bavarian cultural landscape program (KULAP) represent an important building block. The future safeguarding and strengthening of funds are essential for the continuous provision of public services in agriculture.

The Bavarian State Office for Agriculture and the Bavarian State Office for the Environment have worked together on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment Ministry to ensure that the increased cultivation of renewable raw materials does not harm the environment in the future Cultivation and use recommendations for energy crops Developed.

These recommendations can be obtained from the State Office for the Environment.