Biomass Assessment - Main report
The increased use and potential growth of biomass for energy has triggered a heated debate on the sustainability of those developments as biomass production is now also associated with increased competition with food and feed production, loss of forest cover and the like. Besides such competition, also the net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is questioned in case land-use for biomass is associated with clearing forest, with conversion of peat land, as well as with high fossil energy inputs for machinery, fertilisers and other agrochemicals. Although available studies give a reasonable insight in the importance of various parameters, the integration between different arenas is still limited. This causes confusion in public as well as scientific debate, with conflicting views on the possibilities for sustainable use of biomass as a result. This study aims to tackle this problem by providing a more comprehensive assessment of the current knowledge with respect to biomass resource potentials.
Bio-energy has long-term potential
In this study, performed within the framework of the Scientific Assessment and Policy Analysis programme for climate change (WAB), a comprehensive assessment of global biomass potential estimates, focusing on the various factors affecting these potentials, such as food supplies, water use, biodiversity, energy demands and agro-economics is provided.
After an extensive inventory of recent studies in different areas (food, water, biodiversity, agro-economics and energy demand) this study integrates the complicated linkages between the various factors, quantifying the consequences of the linkages and knowledge found in the inventory within the limits of the presently available models. The results are translated into an overview of the uncertainties in biomass resource potential estimates and summarises the available knowledge and knowledge gaps.
Insights into the impacts of more integrated considerations are given by performing some sensitivity analysis using existing models. The aim of these analyses is not to provide quantitative answers, but instead to assess the possible impacts of some key uncertainties. The analysis concentrated on five main issues:
- The role of bio-energy use in energy models, in particular to identify which factors limit the penetration of bio-energy.
- The sensitivity of bio-energy potential estimates to issues such as uncertain development of agriculture technologies, land use, water scarcity, land degradation and nature reserves.
- Key uncertainties in assessing biodiversity losses as a result of land conversion for bioenergy.
- The economic links between food, feed and fuel. Key results and uncertainties in impacts on greenhouse gas balances.
Key results and uncertainties in impacts on greenhouse gas balances.
This analysis leads to policy relevant recommendations for sustainable biomass use in the future including research and development needs.Social, legal and institutional aspects of biomass production and use - although of large political relevance - have not been part of this study. Including these aspects might reduce the available biomass potentials compared to technical estimates discussed in this study.
|Author(s)||Lysen E ; Egmond S van (eds) ; Dornburg V ; Faaij A ; Verweij P ; Banse M ; Diepen K van ; Keulen H van ; Langeveld H ; Meeusen M ; Ven G van de ; Wester F ; Born GJ van den ; Oorschot M van ; Ros J ; Smout F ; Vuuren D van ; Vliet J van ; Aiking H ; Londo M ; Mozaffarian H ; Smekens K|