However, it will still be some years before this comes about, because oil prices partly determine the economic competitiveness of new technologies. The case study demonstrates, though, that when that time comes, our region will be in a great position. The case study assumes the biomass requirements of a plant to be 150,000 t of dry mass (DM), which represents about 2% of the (on average) 7 million tonnes DM logged annually. Competition for timber resources has of course already increased noticeably in recent years, and it will therefore be crucial in the future to use scarce resources in a sustainable way, adding as much value as possible. Bio-refinery technology offers some interesting prospects in this regard, being able to supply chemicals to the major chemical companies, situated around Cologne, Leverkusen, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, which means that raw material suppliers and buyers could complement each other perfectly.
While it is already known that hardwood works well in the CIMV technology, there are still obstacles in refining softwood. However, if softwood could also be refined, the feedstock base could be substantially expanded, since coniferous trees constitute 43% of the forest area in the case study region. Therefore, the project partners VTT (Finland), ECN (Netherlands) and CIMV (France) will conduct tests with different softwood materials in the coming months.
New concepts for the sustainable use of wood: a bio-refinery in the Westerwald?