For optimisation, benchmarks are needed in order to be able to measure it. This is especially true for research in regards to the use of biomass for energy production, as a variety of potential uses opens up many possible utilisation pathways. When they began their work in 2009, scientists from the "Biomass for Energy" funding programme were faced with the task of harmonising their combined methodological processes in order to make performance characteristics as well as cost calculations and accounting comparable. DT coordinated an intensive discussion process and the production of the "Methods Handbook - Part 1: Technological parameters, supplying costs, life cycle assessment"
(Methodenhandbuch), which is intended for the use in the material flow-orientated assessment of research within the scope of the funding programme and the entire bioenergy sector.
In the past, a comparison of the data and results in the field of bioenergy research proved to be difficult, as no uniform standards and methods had been agreed upon by the scientific community. The need to harmonise the methods seemed therefore all the more urgent, since the individual projects in the "Biomass for Energy" funding programme were supposed to be evaluated according to the climate protection effects achieved. For example, these evaluations are undertaken on the basis of the biomass potential, the energy and material balance of conversion processes, economic efficiency calculations plus GHG reductions and other environmental effects.
In the "Methods Handbook", the GHG calculation of the entire process chain is carried out in accordance with the EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU RED 2009/28/EG), partially modified using Germany-specific comparators. The efficiency of test plants is compared--over a specific time frame--with plants that have already proven themselves and have been introduced into the market. In the case of new technological developments, a scenario-based view of the years 2020 to 2050 is also provided assuming that there will be a successful introduction of the system.
For instance, the raw material basis is assessed by means of a potential analysis or a description of the specific reference used. The energy contents of the biomass and the (bio-) energy sources are represented as calorific values in joules.
With the "Methods Handbook" the first step in developing an open standardisation process has been taken. For the first draft, 11 authors involved in the funding programme contributed their experience. The final version of the handbook is currently tested and will be published in 2012.
A German version of the "Methods Handbook--Part 1: Technological parameters, supplying costs, and life cycle assessment" is freely available for download: http://www.energetische-biomassenutzung.de/de/downloads/programminformationen.html.