在進一步了解歐盟境內的「國家生質能行動方案」(National Biomass Action Plan)前，我們必須先了解目前各歐盟會員國生質能發展現況。如同本網站相關文章所提到 (生質能是什麼？)，生質能是由生物質所產生，例如：食物廢棄物、都市廢棄物、農業廢棄物、植物及樹木等，同時可用於個人或工業規模之熱能及發電。
(資料來源：European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), “2011 Annual Statistical Report on the contribution of Biomass to the Energy System in the EU 27”, June 2011, p.34)
在歐盟環境署（European Environment Agency, EEA）報告中指出，生質能固然相當具有未來發展潛力，增加該類別再生能源產出固然重要，但伴隨著對生物多樣性、土壤及水資源之威脅風險提高，生質能的環境友善程度依然值得探討。
1.致力於在2030年前發展「環境友善農法」(environmentally oriented farming)，並施作於會員國至少30%以上農地。
(資料來源：EEA Report 7 – How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?)
(資料來源：2003年資料來自Eurostat；2010、2020及2030年計畫來自歐盟環境署（EEA）, “How much biomass can Europe use without harming the environment,”2015年2月份簡報。)
Biomass Potential in the EU
Before going in-depth into individual National Biomass Action Plan, it is important to understand the current situation of biomass in the EU. As previously mentioned biomass is a product that is created from any biological material, such as food waste, urban waste, agricultural waste, plants and trees. It is used for both heating and to generate electricity on either at an individual or at an industrial scale.
Availability of biomass: Key in its success
As one of the leaders of food production, Europe has a huge number of crops and therefore generates a consequent amount of residues within the production process. Both have the potential to be turned into energy sources .
(Source: European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), “2011 Annual Statistical Report on the contribution of Biomass to the Energy System in the EU 27”, June 2011, p.34)
Agriculture: is broken down into 3 parts – residues / livestock / energy crops. As such, it is evident that because of its significance it makes the agricultural sector a key player in biomass production.
Forestry: holds the biggest supply in terms of biomass. Wood as a source of renewable energy is prevalent in many EU countries (refer back to E.U. Renewable Energy Policies Scheme Part II – graph). Due to policies around deforestation, European forests unlike their world counterparts have seen an increase of 0.3% per year in the last twenty years . Allowing for greater forestry debris and collection of wood for wood pellets production.
Waste: such as solid waste, sewage sludge, landfill and demolition wood also are part of the biomass category and could become central in the production of biomass.
Industrial Residues: such as wood from industries and black liquor from the pulp and paper industry make up the last part of what consists of biomass .
Future potential of biomass
Increasing renewable energy is vital, however it comes with risks of putting additional pressure on biodiversity, soil and water resources. The future potential of biomass as a sustainable source of energy has been reported on by the EEA.
The EEA describes environmentally-compatible potential of bioenergy as “the quantity of primary biomass that is technically available for energy generation based on the assumption that no additional pressures on biodiversity, soil and water resources are exerted compared to a development without increased bioenergy production.” They add that any environmentally-compatible potential ought to align themselves with future environmental policies.
To ensure that there is not an increase of pressures on the environment four environmental criteria were applied to their study. Those are as follow:
- At least 30% of the agricultural land in most Member States if dedicated to ‘environmentally oriented farming’ in 2030.
- 3% of the currently intensively cultivated agricultural land is set aside for establishing ecological compensation areas in intensive farming areas.
- Extensively cultivated agricultural areas are maintained.
- Bioenergy crops with low environmental pressures are used. 
(Source: EEA Report 7 – How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?)
Considering those four criteria, the figure demonstrates the primary bioenergy potential in 2010, in 2020 and 2030. As shown, 2010 had the potential of around 190 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MtOE), whereas 2020 it increases to nearly 250 MtOE and in 2030 it is expected that it could go all the way up to 295 MtOE. This means that even if those strict environmental criteria, thus constraining, were implemented, the potential of bioenergy is adequate with the European renewable energy targets of 2010, 2020 and 2030.
The Commission of the European Communities created a table to show biomass production potential from 2003 to 2030, below is the table:
(Source: 2003 data from Eurostat; projections for 2010, 2020 and 2030 from European Environmental Agency, “How much biomass can Europe use without harming the environment”, briefing 2/2005.)
Those projections are undeniably optimistic since they come with a load of environmental assumptions. However, the EEA study does come to the conclusion that technically a noteworthy amount of biomass is available to support EU renewable energy targets without increasing pressures on the environment.
- European Biomass Association (AEBIOM), “2011 Annual Statistical Report on the contribution of Biomass to the Energy System in the EU 27”, June 2011, p.34
- Ibid., p. 40.
- Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, “Biomass availability in Europe”, December 2003, p.12.
- 集約農業（intensive farming）是指在單位面積的土地上，投入大量的勞力與資金，以提高單位面積產量的經營方式，集約農業通常位於人口稠密度高但耕地面積普遍狹小地區，例如：季風亞洲（受季風影響的亞洲地區）、尼羅河流域、兩河流域。粗放農業（extensive agriculture）因耕地面積大，相對於集約農業，僅須投入較少的勞力與資金的經營方式，通常位於耕地面積廣大地區，例如：北美洲、澳洲等。
- EEA Report 7 – How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?