This press release was published in Danish on Oct 17, 2016 at

The Growth Industry seeks to establish a biorefinery sector in Denmark, which can replace oil-based products with green materials, energy, and fuel. However, it takes more biomass than we produce today. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University are now able to show how we can use existing technologies to double biomass production, while significantly reduce greenhouse gasses and nitrogen in our agriculture.

33x200_091221_inbicon0004In 2012 the Copenhagen and Aarhus University published a report called ‘The +10 million ton plan’, which showed how we could increase the Danish production of biomass from agriculture and forestry with up to 10 million tons dry matter annually, without compromising the production of food and with positive effects on the environment.

Hydrolysis tanks, where biomass is converted to sugar. Photo: Henning Jørgensen, University of Copenhagen

Researchers have now published an updated version of the report, which shows that it is possible to increase the production of Danish biomass using already known technologies while achieving large reductions in Denmark’s emissions of greenhouse gasses and nitrogen.

The report provides concrete solutions on how Denmark, in a few years, can produce 10 million extra tons of biomass per year, without including more farmland. It is made possible by doubling crop production per area unit and selecting crops that utilize the whole season:

-“By using perennial crops and secondary crops combined with conventional crops, there are enough crops for fodder and production, as well as biomass, for energy production as biogas. In addition, if we take comprehensive environmental and natural precautions, we will be able to produce an additional eight million tons of biomass in the coming years”, says senior adviser at the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen, Morten Gylling, who is one of the researchers behind the report.

Reorganization of our energy creates 20,000 new jobs

The increased biomass production will make it possible to establish a growing biorefinery sector in Denmark, while creating about 20,000 new jobs, primarily in the province. 10 million tons of biomass will also change large parts of our energy supply, according to Professor Claus Felby from the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen, who is also behind the report:

-“10 million tons of biomass can provide about 20 percent of our current consumption of natural gas and 30 to 50 percent of our gasoline and diesel consumption. The transport sector is a major challenge for the green transition, and here Danish biorefineries can make a difference. Also, an increased production of feed protein could to a significant extent replace our current imports from South America”.

Improved aquatic environment.

The report’s findings also show that the water environment will be improved with a focus on biomass. The loss of nitrogen from agricultural fields can be reduced by about 20,000 tons:

-“A biomass focus alone can help with the under-performance towards the EU Water Framework Directive. It is among other things an improved utilization of the manure that will enable us to reduce the nitrate leaching, according to Uffe Jørgensen from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University.

High impact on greenhouse gas emissions

If the plan is realized in the form of both increased biomass production and use of this energy in the transportation of electricity and heat, it can result in large CO2 emission reductions in Denmark. The realization of the perspectives in the +10 million tonnes study will reduce Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent. It is roughly equivalent to the total emissions of greenhouse gasses from the entire agricultural sector.

Necessary investments

To realize the biomass plan, it is necessary to build a Danish biorefinery sector. The technology is available, but there is a need for investments and adjustments in the coming years, both in agriculture and forestry, as well as the introduction of new technologies on a large scale conversion of biomass. On the agriculture side, there would be a need for – on certain areas – to alter the production to other crops, and to optimize e.g. cultivation and harvesting methods for grain.

Download the English version of the updated report here: Download pdf


Professor Claus Felby, Mobile: 40 89 89 32

Senior adviser Morten Gylling, Mobile: 27 24 34 84

Senior scientist Uffe Jørgensen, Aarhus University, Mobile: 21 33 78 31