Socio-economic opportunities of the biobased economy in the south-west of the Netherlands

This study, commissioned by the Socio-Economic Councils (SER) of the Dutch provinces of Zeeland and Brabant, was carried out in collaboration with a supervisory committee comprising numerous stakeholders in the biobased economy in the south-west of the Netherlands. The motto was ‘agro meets chemistry’. Given that it was clear from the outset that the volume of locally available biomass is insufficient for large-scale power generation without inducing serious competition with food production, it was opted to restrict the scope of the ‘biobased economy’ to production of biobased chemicals and innovative materials. Because of the study’s limited scope and duration, gross employment effects were also calculated for Zeeland and West Brabant only.

To this end, three factors critical for the growth of the biobased economy and thus for potential employment effects were analysed: the price of fossil feedstocks, the availability of biomass for chemical industry applications, and the availability of capital for investing in innovative biobased processes.

To cover the full range of possible developments in the biobased economy, two scenarios were developed: ‘high and ‘’low’, with in each case employment effects being estimated on the basis of a biomass flow analysis and employment indices.