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Bioenergy and ecosystems services for low-carbon development in the Baltic Sea Region – BioGreenBaltic

The European Union (EU) has adopted a strategy to make the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) prosperous, safe and secure. Security of energy supply, promotion of the bio-economy, nutrient recycling, and innovation are prioritized policy areas in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUBSR). In addition, the BSR is highly vulnerable to climate change. In this context, understanding the interlinkages between energy transition, ecosystem services and climate change is essential for building a resilient economy. The idea is to realize the use of bio-based resources while simultaneously guaranteeing the protection of ecosystem services and compliance with climate strategies.

The Energy and Climate Studies (ECS) division at KTH has built a consortium to explore integrated strategies for optimal use of bio-based resources in the Baltic-Sea Region (BSR). Universities, research institutions, biomass associations, companies and municipalities from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus are involved in the initiative, together with the World Bioenergy Association and IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. The partners will work together in establishing a strong network, and defining common goals for balancing bioenergy and ecosystems services in the context of climate actions in the BSR region.

About opportunities and challenges in the BSR

The BSR covers 20% of the EU and is home to 80 million inhabitants. Bioenergy (BoE) is an abundant renewable resource in the BSR which can be deployed to explore multiple environmental and socio-economic benefits. Deployment of bioenergy can improve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR), but may also affect ecosystems services (ESS). Despite recent expansion in the use of bioenergy and international trade in the BSR, only a small portion of the existing potential has been harnessed.

Biomass feedstock can be used for food, fibre, fodder and fuel, and is available in the form of energy crops, agro-forest residues, by-products from industries, and biogenic municipal waste. Bioenergy can play an important role in providing energy security and diversifying energy sources, as well as mitigating climate change. However, if not properly managed, the use of land for energy crops may affect food and water supply, and forest cover, reducing the natural adaptive capacity to climate change impacts. Therefore, the supply chains of bioenergy and eco-systems services should be examined considering spatial dimensions and material flows created at various stages. 

About the project

A regional consortium of stakeholders has been formed to carry out in-depth research and define joint actions to address bio-resource deployment and ecosystem services management in a context of climate change. Synergies between mitigation and adaptation actions and their integration with sectoral policies will be highlighted aiming at implementing climate strategies in line with sustainable development goals.

This project will (1) strengthen the ties between stakeholders with the formation of a regional consortium around the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) to map the resource base, evaluate conditions for bioenergy and ecosystems services development at the regional level, and promote regional policies in related areas; (2) define key issues for sustainable deployment of bioenergy in the BSR; (3) identify regional policies that can be applied to improve conditions in the region. In addition, the consortium will explore synergies between mitigation and adaptation actions and their integration with sectoral policies in the BSR region.

The project is a first step in developing a strong network in the BSR to enhance the knowledge base on the bio-based economy in the BSR, disseminate information, and provide decision support for policy makers. The idea is to develop an integrated and optimized management system (e.g. including agro-forestry biomass, municipal waste and eco-systems services), for the provision of multiple regional benefits.

The project helps implement goals and objectives set by the HELCOM Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission and the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). It involves multiple stakeholders from academia, government, NGOs and private companies. An integrated system approach is proposed to deal with multi-sectoral and functional perspectives on the supply chain of bio-resources and material flows, including land and water, waste streams and nutrients, and develop synergetic linkages between BioE, ESS and climate strategies. 

Project duration

September 2016 to December 2017

Project team

Leading partner: Energy and Climate Studies, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.

Project Leader: Prof. Semida Silveira, PhD.

Project coordinator: Dilip Khatiwada, PhD.

Collaborating partners

1. Partners in Lithuania

  • Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, Lithuania
  • Lithuanian Biomass Energy Association

2. Partners in Latvia

  • Institute of Energy Systems and Environment, Riga Technical University (RTU IESE)
  • District heating enterprise in Ludza municipality "Ludzas Bioenergija".

 3. Partners in Estonia

  • Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI-Tallinn
  • Saue Rural Municipality, Estonia

4. Partners in Belarus:

  • Belarusian National Technical University - BNTU, together with a bioenergy SME

5. WBA - World Bioenergy Association, Sweden

6. IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

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