commercial and non-commercial uses of biomass provide some
11% of the world’s primary energy supplies. For tomorrow,
modern use of bioenergy offers cost-effective, sustainable
opportunities to meet a significant proportion of world energy
demand while helping to reduce carbon emissions from fossil
special issue of the OPEN Bulletin highlights recent
initiatives and achievements of IEA Bioenergy, an international
programme for collaborative energy technology RD&D and
information dissemination. Its activities bring together
nineteen participating countries and the European Commission.
IEA Bioenergy is one of some forty Implementing Agreements
within the IEA’s Framework
for International Energy Technology Co-operation.
and sustainable - Bioenergy is part of the family of renewable
energies for which the technology is proving commercially viable. As a
feedstock for producing fuels and substitutes for petrochemical or other
energy-intensive products, these resources stem directly or indirectly
from nature’s process of photosynthesis. Organic waste from forestry
or agriculture is also a bioenergy resource, as is municipal solid waste.
Bioenergy solutions are well placed globally to help improve energy security
and mitigate impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. They consolidate the
three pillars of sustainable development: the economy, the environment
and social well-being.
programme with a track record - IEA
Bioenergy has 25 years of solid experience and accomplishments behind
it. The programme’s work covers a range of technical areas, structured
into 11 programmes known as “Tasks”. The following items outline
individual Task activities and provide access to websites and plentiful
further documentation. These Tasks have broad-ranging mandates, notably
addressing cross-cutting issues like techno-economic factors, environmental
and economic sustainability, system studies, fuel standards, greenhouse
gas balances, barriers to deployment, and management decision support systems.
An IEA Bioenergy brochure describes
the programme’s general aims, methods and activities.
and environmental drivers. The development of bioenergy projects
yields not only environmental advantages like reduced greenhouse-gas emissions,
but also socio-economic benefits. Bioenergy projects can increase employment
locally, improve agricultural production and heighten local awareness of
sustainable development. A special IEA Bioenergy Task identifies
and quantifies the socio-economic and environmental impacts of bioenergy
production systems. In particular, it investigates the effects of bioenergy
generation – both feedstock production and energy conversion – on
the surrounding economic, social, and environmental climate. Such identified
and substantiated net regional gains and benefits can be powerful arguments
when bioenergy use is being recommended to policy makers and decision takers.
For more about this work, contact the Task Leader, Julije
Domac , or visit the Website.
resourceful public education tool. People are generally in favour
of greater use of biomass, but many remain confused as to what the technology
is all about and what benefits it offers local communities. Such are the
findings of surveys on perceptions and attitudes regarding bioenergy and
other renewables, conducted among householders in the United Kingdom (UK)
and Croatia. This urgent call for an all-out effort on education was taken
up at a recent international forum of IEA Bioenergy Task 29 collaborators
in Streatley, UK.
stage at this forum was a new educational website. It offers the user a simple-level
view of the complexities of bioenergy, but also a guided tour delving deeply
into the intricacies of the topic in an interactive and enjoyable way. The
website also contains sections showing ‘How to learn more’ from
a selection of scientific papers and useful links, then a ‘Test’ of
users’ knowledge, a ‘Did you know?’ database and a ‘Search
Engine’. Questions about biomass and bioenergy can be put to the Webmaster,
and more complex queries to a panel of experts. This educational tool is
suitable for secondary school children upwards. To learn more, visit the
partially under construction).
biomass crops. Biomass can be cultivated in the form of special agricultural
crops. As new agricultural land becomes available and demand for biomass production
expands around the world, such energy crops assume increasing importance. The
goal of IEA Bioenergy’s Task 30 is to acquire, synthesise and transfer
knowledge on sustainable short-rotation biomass production systems. In collaboration
with the various sectors involved, it works in this way to enhance market development
and large-scale implementation. A major focus is the integration of the production
and environmental functions of short-rotation biomass. The Task’s work
programme features multiple high-priority topics, ranging from economic viability
to system sustainability. For more about this Task, contact the Task Leader, Theo
Verwijst, or visit the Task
production of biomass from forests. Forests can produce biomass,
but the process must be undertaken without damage to the eco-system. Sustainable
Bioenergy Production Systems: Environmental, Operational and Social Implications was
the theme of a workshop organised jointly by IEA Bioenergy’s Tasks
31 and Task 30 in October 2002 in Brazil. Bringing together 110 participants
from 15 different countries, this event established a platform for discussions
on sustainability criteria. A total of 37 invited and volunteered papers
and posters were presented. The program included pre- and post-workshop
study tours of sugar cane and ethanol production facilities and eucalyptus
plantations, as well as a mid-workshop field study tour to visit eucalyptus
biomass, charcoal and tar production facilities. Six Brazilian companies
mounted bioenergy-related exhibit booths. An important outcome of this
very successful workshop was improved international understanding of the
bioenergy sector in Brazil. The workshop proceedings are scheduled to be
published in a special issue of the journal Biomass and Bioenergy.
For further information on this publication and the work of IEA Bioenergy
Task 31, contact Jim Richardson.
experience in biomass combustion and co-firing. What are the current
methods for turning biomass into bioenergy? Combustion already provides
over 90% of the energy generated from biomass around the globe. Compared
with other thermo-chemical conversion technologies like gasification, pyrolysis
or liquefaction, combustion technologies are advantageous because they
are commercially available and can be integrated into existing infrastructure.
As other technologies develop, however, biomass combustion will need to
be optimised to remain competitive.
IEA Bioenergy’s Task 32 works on biomass combustion and co-firing with
coal, which combines renewable and fossil energy in a way that derives the
greatest benefit from both fuel types. Activities focus especially on expanding
use of small- and medium-scale combined heat and power (CHP) plants and on
co-firing biomass with coal in traditional coal-fired boilers. Co-firing technical
issues addressed include ash deposition, ash utilisation, NOx, corrosion, char
combustion, pre-processing of biomass and resource assessment. Combustion issues
include ash utilisation, aerosol formation, and NOx. The accent is on market
introduction and expanding the use of biomass combustion in the short term,
as well as ensuring that biomass combustion technology remains competitive
in the longer term. For more about this Task contact the Task Leader: Sjaak
van Loo: or visit the Task Website
biomass to biogas via thermal conversion. There are many uses
for gas produced through the biomass gasification process. The focus of
IEA Bioenergy’s Task 33 is on promoting commercialisation of efficient,
economical and environmentally preferable biomass gasification processes.
The gas produced is destined for generating electricity, heat, and steam,
also for producing synthesis gas for subsequent conversion to chemicals,
fertilisers, hydrogen and transportation fuels, and for co-production of
these products. Operating experiences from selected biomass gasification
demonstration projects were presented at a Task meeting in August 2003.
Of interest to practitioners involved in the development, scale-up and
operation of gasification processes, a summary of these findings can be
viewed and downloaded at IEA Bioenergy’s Website.
For more about this Task contact the Task Leader, Suresh
P. Babu, or visit http://www.ieabioenergy.com/.
from biogas and landfill gas. The biological process used here
is anaerobic degradation of organic wastes and waste waters. This is a
controlled treatment in fully engineered vessels (digesters) providing
an airless environment. The organic compounds are reduced and two products
are formed: a stabilised solid product (digestate), which is an excellent
fertiliser comparable to compost; and biogas, an excellent source of renewable
energy comparable to natural gas.
IEA Bioenergy’s Task 37 and other networks have helped to make anaerobic
digestion one of the standard technologies in the treatment of organic waste
in Europe. A total of 115 plants have been identified with a treatment capacity
of 1.5 million tonnes per year of organic solid waste. They are detailed at
the Task 37 Website.
Anaerobic digestion is nevertheless still a relatively new process, not very
well known to government agencies, potential operators and consultants. The
work of IEA Bioenergy’s Task 37 helps to initiate and stimulate communication
between RD&D programmes, industry and governmental bodies. For example,
joining forces with the City of Vienna (Austria), Task 37 recently organised
a seminar, attended by 160 participants, to convince the city to build a plant
within their new waste collection concept. For
more about this seminar and about the Task, contact the Task Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit www.novaenergie.ch/iea-bioenergy-task37.
as a commodity in international trade. Two IEA Bioenergy groups – Tasks
38 and 35 – are collaborating on the use of internationally traded
biofuels for reducing CO2 emissions. A joint workshop, Biomass Trade:
Economic and Greenhouse Gas Considerations (Biotrade), took place
on 19 June 2002, in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), as part of the 12th European
Conference and Technology Exhibition on Biomass for Energy, Industry and
Climate Protection. Further information about the workshop can be found
at the Task
38 Website. More recently, a Task 38 conference in Östersund (Sweden)
in September 2003 focused on the theme Efficient Use of Biomass for
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation. See Website.
has been proposed by the Netherlands that a new IEA Bioenergy Task be created,
dealing specifically with international trade. This could incorporate trade
in raw biomass as well as trade in biofuels. A workshop with industry in
July 2003 revealed interest in these issues. Further development of the proposal
is being undertaken with industry and other national stakeholders and should
result in a new task in the next triennium (2004-2006). For further information
IEA Bioenergy. IEA Bioenergy was set up in 1978 by the International
Energy Agency (IEA) with the aim of improving co-operation and information
exchange between countries having national programmes for bioenergy research,
development and deployment. The programme is an IEA Implementing Agreement
and operates within the IEA’s International Energy Technology Co-operation
Programme. This facilitates co-operation among IEA member and non-member
countries on developing new and improved energy technologies and introducing
them into the market. For general information about IEA Bioenergy please
visit its Website.
See also the programme’s Media
Centre for the new IEA Bioenergy Strategic Plan and other media items,
including a descriptive
- Answers to Questions about Bioenergy, Carbon Sinks and Global Climate
Change. What is the difference between CO2 emissions from bioenergy
and those from fossil fuels? How can trees and forests act as a carbon
sink? What area of land is required to supply bioenergy to a power station?
What about land management for carbon sinks, bioenergy and fibre production?
What is the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through use
of bioenergy and through terrestrial carbon sequestration? The answers
can be found in this FAQ publication, which aims to inform industry, researchers,
policy makers and the interested public about the key issues. Copies are
available from the Task management or can be downloaded from the Task
Publications from IEA Bioenergy. Large-scale deployment of bioenergy
technologies depends on effective knowledge dissemination and technology
transfer. To this end, a number of books were produced by IEA Bioenergy
in 2002. These capture the significant progress achieved in the technical
areas of: fast pyrolysis of biomass; biomass
combustion and co-firing; and bioenergy from sustainable
forestry. The programme’s Executive Committee also produced
a policy-orientated publication on sustainable production of woody biomass.
A list of these publications is given below.
addition, a wide range of reports, brochures newsletters and other items
of briefing material can be downloaded free of charge from the programme’s Website and
those of the individual programme Tasks.
For more information about IEA Bioenergy publications, visit the IEA
Bioenergy Library; the IEA Bioenergy Media
Centre; and links to
the Task websites.
A.V (Ed.). Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass:
A Handbook - Volume 2. CPL Press, Newbury, United Kingdom. 2002: 424pp.
This handbook provides a companion volume to the first handbook published
in 1999 and is a useful guide to both newcomers to the subject area and
those already involved in research, development and implementation. A significant
feature of this volume is the attention paid to commercial issues such
as marketability, transportation and safety. For more information contact Tony
Loo, S. and Koppejan, J. (Eds.). Handbook
of Biomass Combustion and Co-firing. Twente University Press, Enschede,
the Netherlands. 2002: 348pp. This handbook is the first publication to
cover both the theory and the application of biomass combustion and co-firing.
Combustion technologies already play a major role in energy production
from biomass. To ensure further implementation of biomass combustion, however,
the technology needs to be optimised to meet demands for lower costs, greater
fuel flexibility, lower emissions and increased efficiency. The contributors
include international academics and industrial experts from around the
world. In a clear and comprehensive manner, they cover the entire field,
from basic principles and fuel supply to industrial combustion and environmental
aspects. The handbook is suitable for a wide audience and should help accelerate
the market introduction of improved combustion systems. For more information
please visit http://www.ieabcc.nl/.
J., Björheden, R., Hakkila, P., Lowe, A.T. and Smith, C.T. (eds.).
2002. Bioenergy from Sustainable Forestry: Guiding Principles and Practice.
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands. 344 pp. This volume
is organised around the criteria for sustainable forest management: productivity,
environment, social issues, economics, and legal and institutional frameworks.
More than 25 international experts from 10 countries have brought together
available ecological, physical, operational, social and economic information
and identified gaps in knowledge relating to biomass production and harvesting
systems. This is the first time that such comprehensive information has
been presented within one cover. The book will enable forest resource managers
and planners to evaluate the ability of specific forest regions to meet
bioenergy production demands in a sustainable way. For more information
contact Jim Richardson.
Production of Woody Biomass for Energy - A Position Paper prepared
by IEA Bioenergy. 2002: 12pp. This paper concludes that, given a supportive
policy environment, bioenergy can provide a sustainable solution to future
energy demands. It provides an overview of biomass production systems
and a discussion of sustainability issues, with particular reference
to economic, environmental and social sustainability. This is one of
a series of position papers initiated by IEA Bioenergy’s Executive
Committee and based on the work of the programme’s Tasks. These
papers are policy-orientated statements focusing on key issues that may
arise in the near future. Their purpose is to inform policy makers and
influence policy development. Hard copies of Sustainable Production
of Woody Biomass for Energy can be obtained from the Executive Committee
Secretary, John Tustin.