Carbon Quantity Framework of a Bio-Based Carbon Circular Economy in the Resource Region Berlin-Brandenburg

Main Presenter:    Johannes Roland Scholz 

Co-Authors:                                                  

The imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shift away from fossil carbon sources has led to concerns about carbon scarcity in various industries. This has sparked discussions on the demand for substitutes like hydrogen and renewable carbon sources, creating foreseeable competition for their utilization [1]. One such renewable source is biomass, which, through photosynthesis, converts and stores CO2 from the air into biogenic carbon. Common approaches to the energy transition involve the utilization of renewable biogenic carbon in forms like bioethanol, biogas, or wood, often deemed CO2 neutral. Incentives for combustion are even provided through emission credits as substitutes for fossil fuels. However, the efficacy of promoting this energy generation method remains a subject of debate, especially considering biomass’s potential as a carbon sink and anthropogenic carbon reservoir [2] .
In the context of a bio-based carbon circular economy and waste hierarchy, the focus is on keeping material flows, such as cascade utilization or recycling, circulating for as long as possible to accumulate a carbon sink. To achieve this, a critical first step involves assessing potential carbon flows within current practices. The Berlin-Brandenburg region (B-BB) is particularly relevant, possessing extensive biogenic resources with vast forests and agricultural land. Metropolitan areas within the region, such as Berlin and Potsdam, generate significant waste streams, presenting an opportunity for B-BB to become a pivotal resource region for a bio-based carbon circular economy.
This study aims to estimate the potential of B-BB as a resource region by addressing key questions: What quantities result from quantifying biogenic carbon flows, and to what extent can this be achieved through public statistics? What data gaps and weaknesses exist in the statistics? And, importantly, what quantities are available for long-term utilization cascades in a carbon circular economy?
In 2020, B-BB extracted approximately 730,000 Mg of biogenic carbon from its forests through logging [3], with about 32% channeled into potential long-term uses as stemwood. The same year saw around 115,000 Mg of biogenic carbon from old wood in construction and demolition waste [4], with about 74% being thermally utilized [5]. These exemplary carbon flows, along with additional data on primary and secondary carbon flows and storage, were consolidated into a framework to characterize the potential for a bio-based carbon circular economy.
The result provides an overview of biogenic carbon sources, storage, flows, and sinks in the B-BB resource region, offering new insights for guiding decisions on industry and climate protection toward a bio-based carbon circular economy.

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