Bioenergy is the world’s most important renewable energy source. At the same time, it involves more complex environmental and sustainability challenges than any other resource. Bioenergy applications have long since developed from the still dominant traditional use of firewood to the “first generation” of biofuels and through to ultra-modern process chains and applications in all sectors. Accordingly, our institute adopts an interlinked approach to the issue of bioenergy, subdivided into the following priority areas: biofuels – biogas – solid biomass – life cycle assessments and sustainability analysis.

Our key research topics


In terms of bioenergy and waste management, ifeu has been working on projects relating to the production and use of biogas since the 1990s. The focus is on ecological optimisation and, in particular, the contribution made by biogas to climate protection. On the one hand, all biogas plants in operation in Germany are state of the art. On the other hand, questions have been raised about the optimum strategy for the continued operation or decommissioning of biogas plants when the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) comes to an end.



Since 1990, ifeu has undertaken a large number of projects in the biofuels sector. These have included evaluating biofuels against fossil fuels in relation to environmental protection, identifying the potential for the production and use of biofuels, and analysing a wide range of different types of production and use.


Solid biomass

Solid biomass is a relevant renewable energy source, either through direct use as a fuel for heating and electricity supply, or through the concepts of “advanced” bioenergy based on the use of solid biomass as a raw material. Amongst other issues, we deal intensively with the question of the sustainability of the raw material supply. This also includes the question of the effective contribution of the use of solid biomass to climate protection, and aspects of nature conservation or potential usage competition.


Palm oil

The demand for the energy source palm oil is increasing: the fruit of the oil palm is comparatively cheap and can be easily processed further, and as a renewable energy source palm oil also has a good energy balance. However, with the global increase in oil palm plantations, ecological and social concerns are also growing. ifeu has been researching the question of how palm oil can be produced more sustainably for around 10 years.