Home > Technology Agreements > Bioenergy

The IEA provides support for international collaboration on energy technology R&D, deployment and information dissemination. These groups function within a framework created by the IEA - the International Framework for International Energy Technology Collaboration. The views, findings and publications of these international groups (formally called Implementing Agreements) do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of all its individual member countries. OECD Member countries, autonomous OECD non-member countries, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and private sector entities may participate. For more information, see our Technology Agreements page.


Bioenergy resources such as forestry and agriculture crops, biomass residues and wastes already provide about 14% of the world's primary energy supplies. Bioenergy offers cost-effective and sustainable opportunities with the potential to meet 50% of world energy demands during the next century and at the same time meet the requirement of reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Signatories : Australia | Austria | Belgium | Brazil | Croatia | Denmark | Finland | France | Germany | Ireland | Italy | Japan | Korea, Republic of | Netherlands | New Zealand | Norway | South Africa | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey | United Kingdom | United States | Commission of the European Union |
For more information: http://www.ieabioenergy.com/

Current Projects (Annexes)

32. Biomass Combustion and Co-firing
The objective of the Task is to collect, analyse, share, and disseminate strategic technical and non- technical information on biomass combustion and co-firing applications, leading to increased acceptance and performance in terms of environment, costs, and reliability. The work scope will have more focus on market dissemination and implementation. This is secured through enhanced interaction with individual industries, industry groups and other IEA IA’s and Bioenergy tasks. The program of activities builds upon the work done in the previous triennium and addresses the key technical, economic, environmental, and social issues that impede market introduction of biomass combustion and co-firing technologies. It covers a wide range of combustion technologies, fuels, and socio-economic conditions that prevail in the different member countries of this Task, varying from domestic woodstoves to industrial combustion for heat generation, dedicated combustion based power plants and co-firing applications. The set of activities are geared towards effectively collecting, sharing, and analysing the policy aspects of results of (intern)national R&D programmes that relate to these priorities. The results of these actions will be disseminated in various ways (workshops, reports, publications, databases etc.) In addition, a number of specifically designed, strategic actions will be carried out by Task members to catalyse this process. Deliverables and Target Groups for 2010-2012 - Two workshops with subsequent published proceedings and a technical review for mitigation options for aerosols from residential solid fuel appliances, aimed at equipment suppliers and policy makers - A workshop with published guidelines on the options and limitations for increased use of challenging fuels in domestic and industrial scale combustion devices, for end users and equipment suppliers. - A technical assessment and characterisation of torrefaction for both co-firing applications as well as small scale pellet boilers, for both policy makers, equipment suppliers and end users. - A workshop and technical assessment on health and safety aspects of large scale fuel handling and storages, for end users - A joint workshop with VGB PowerTech on increased co-firing percentages and fuel flexibility, for power utilities - A workshop on biomass combustion based CHP for small scale application, for equipment suppliers and policy makers - A technical paper/guideline for increased ash utilisation of biomass (co)combustion processes, for policy makers. - Databases and internet based tools, aimed at all market participants.


33. Thermal Gasification of Biomass
The Task will offer a forum for National Team Leaders (NTLS) to exchange, review, and evaluate information from worldwide biomass gasification (BMG) RD&D programmes and operating commercial and pilot plants that should assist in the development of national bioenergy programmes and to advance the state-of-the art of BMG. In recognition of the potential to produce fuels and chemicals via synthesis gas the Task will expand its role to address issues related to synthesis gas in addition to combined heat and power (CHP) and power. The Task will continue its interaction with industrial and academic experts to coordinate technology and product development. A new initiative will involve cooperation with ‘policy’ related tasks to address critical issues along the entire value chain from feedstock to market deployment of gasification based bioenergy products. These activities should be useful for participating countries to refine national bioenergy plans as well as to explore cooperative RD&D projects with other NTLS. The Task objectives are: - Conduct subtask studies to review and evaluate information from the current world-wide RD&D programmes and operating gasification systems to identify and resolve barriers for advancement of economical, efficient, and environmentally preferable BMG processes. - Promote commercialisation of BMG to produce fuel and synthesis gases that could be subsequently converted to substitutes for fossil fuel based energy products and chemicals and lay the foundation for secure and sustainable energy supply. - Enable NTLS to develop forward looking strategies and policies to implement programmes in their respective countries, and help ‘leapfrog’ resource consuming repetitive and redundant exercises Work Scope: Organise semi-annual Task Meetings to exchange and review global RD&D programmes and projects to identify barriers to commercialise BMG. Use the survey information to prepare and update Country Reports and RD&D needs and to make them available to NTLS to aid in the development of their respective national BMG and bioenergy plans. Conduct subtask studies including focused technical workshops, with industrial and academic experts to address the key barriers to advancing BMG. Wherever possible, conduct joint studies with related tasks, annexes, and other international activities to pursue mutually beneficial investigations. Six workshop topics will be selected from: 1. Second Generation Biofuels (Thermochemical & Biological Synthesis – Process and System Integration) + Identify Process Steps with Short Commercial Implementation Timelines and process warranties - possible joint study with Task 39. 2. Status of BMG Technologies, Related Bioenergy and Chemicals Production, and RD&D Needs. 3. Advances in Gas Cleanup for BMG Applications. 4. Protocols for Characterisation of Synthesis Gas for BTL. 5. Gasifier Feeders that can handle Feed Stocks with Variable Properties. 6. Survey (MSW & RDF) Waste Gasification - possible joint Study with Task 36. 7. Opportunities for Embedded Generation with Forest Product Industries/Utilities as well as Integration with Chemical Process Industries & Petroleum Refineries, 8. Sustainability (Feedstock, Water, Green House Gases (GHG, Socio-economic Benefits, Security of Supply) and Social Responsibility Issues (including job creation) to Develop Position Papers for Policy and Decision Makers Related to Commercialisation of BMG Based Bioenergy Products– Joint Study with Task 38 9. Health, Safety and Environmental Guidelines for Small-scale Biomass Gasification Plants 10. Collaborative RD&D Pursuits for Innovations in Market Development for BMG.


34. Pyrolysis of Biomass
The objective of the Task is to improve the rate of implementation and success of fast pyrolysis of biomass for fuels and chemicals (where this complements the energetic considerations) by contributing to the resolution of critical technical areas and disseminating relevant information particularly to industry and policy makers. The scope of the Task is to monitor, review, and contribute to the resolution of issues that will permit more successful and more rapid implementation of biomass pyrolysis technology, including identification of opportunities to provide a substantial contribution to bioenergy. This will be achieved by a programme of work which addresses the following priority topics: norms and standards; analysis – methods comparison, developments, database formulation; country updates and state-of-the-art reviews; and fuels and chemicals from pyrolysis Pyrolysis comprises all steps in a process from reception of biomass in a raw harvested form to delivery of a marketable product as liquid fuel, heat and/or power, chemicals and char by-product. The technology review may focus on the thermal conversion and applications steps, but implementation requires the complete process to be considered. Process components as well as the total process are therefore included in the scope of the Task, which covers optimisation, alternatives, economics, and market assessment. The work of the Task addresses the concerns and expectations of the following stakeholders: pyrolysis technology developers; bio-oil applications developers; equipment manufacturers; bio-oil users; chemical producers; utilities providers; policy makers; decision makers; investors; planners, and researchers. Industry is actively encouraged to be involved as Task participants, as contributors to workshops or seminars, as consultants, or as technical reviewers of Task outputs to ensure that the orientation and activities of the Task match or meet their requirements. Task 34 has been reorganised under new leadership. There are five participants in 2010 as shown below. From January 2010 the Task will continue until the end of the triennium in December 2012.


36. Integrating Energy Recovery into Solid Waste Management
This Task will examine issues that are important to policy development and implementation of energy recovery systems (including anaerobic digestion) for solid wastes. In undertaking this work the Task will include cross cutting issues such as GHG life cycle assessment and cost-benefit analysis. A close collaboration with other Tasks in the Bioenergy Framework will be important to the success of this work. Key objectives are review and exchange information on energy from waste options in participating countries in order to share potential solutions to overcoming barriers to implementation. This will include examination of the impact of management and design of facilities on environmental impacts such as the production of residues. Working to develop an understanding of the appropriate application of energy recovery, including integration with recycling and recovery facilities (i.e. within ‘eco refineries’) and an understanding of the options available at small-scale for rural areas and developing countries. Increasing the understanding of the impact of changing policies on the uptake of energy from waste in participating countries. Policies on renewable energy in particular impact in a number of ways: by supporting energy from biogenic fractions only and by incentivising the use of heat these policies can change the direction of waste management for energy recovery. Policies on waste management are moving towards the inclusion of an appreciation of the carbon balance of different options. Working with other key Tasks where relevant work is being undertaken, e.g. on GHG life cycle assessment or on anaerobic digestion. Waste management continues to face challenges in many areas, including treatment of waste, resource recovery and disposal. Increasingly Governments are looking at opportunities to recover value from waste that cannot be recycled and in a number of countries attention on energy recovery, particularly heat has increased. This development of policy at national and local level is one of the most important influences on the recovery of energy from solid waste, together with barriers to procurement and energy use. Waste management policy and the drivers for development of waste management are summarised in Table 1 and discussed in the section below. A key role of the proposed work for Task 36 will be to examine how these policy differences influence the development of energy from waste, particularly recovery of heat and integration with other materials recovery and waste treatment processes.


37. Energy from Biogas
The main objectives of the work programme are the deployment of Anaerobic Digestion (AD) technology for renewable energy production and environmental protection, and the provision of expert scientific and technical support to policy makers in member countries. The work will therefore focus collection, verification, exchange and dissemination of information, promotion of new and improved technologies and products, stimulation of the interaction between research and development, the industry, decision makers and waste handling companies, and last but not least assistance of local and national governments to adopt appropriate industry standards and waste management practices. The strategic goals of the ExCo are integrated in the work and joint activities with other Tasks is planned. Key topics of the new triennium are the sustainability and quality issues related to the production, capture, and up-grading of biogas for direct energy production or use as a biofuel. This will involve comparison of mass, energy and emissions balances for different AD process pathways using agricultural residues, including energy crops, as well as green wastes as feedstocks. As such, the work programme will provide an expert input to policy debates in the areas of renewable energy, waste management, and climate change. There will be a multiple approach to dissemination of the information collected and verified by the expert members. This will include direct technical input to developing energy, waste and climate change discussions in the member countries, and also direct dissemination of information to both industry and associated licensing authorities, through dedicated technical leaflets, seminars and workshops, and to the public through the Task’s web site.


38. Greenhouse Gas Balances of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems
The proposed Task will focus on the development and application of methods to document greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation benefits of bioenergy systems. Objectives are: 1. Promote the sustainable use of biomass and bioenergy through increased understanding of the GHG and other impacts; 2. Improve and modify the ‘standard methodology’ for the calculation of GHG balances based on life-cycle analysis by incorporating new issues, technologies and topics as they appear; 3. Work in cooperation with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks to assess GHG balances of new technologies; 4. Assess and report on best practices in participating countries for reducing GHG emissions using biomass and bioenergy; and 5. Aid decision makers in selecting mitigation strategies that optimise GHG benefits by disseminating the results of the above-mentioned activities. The Task will continue to work on the GHG impacts of biomass and bioenergy systems but will extend the activities of the previous triennium to: 1. focus on impacts on soil organic carbon and emissions of other GHGs (e.g. N2O from fertiliser use); 2. emphasise the use of waste streams (e.g. forest residuals) and improving biomass use efficiency thus minimising the competition for biomass with other uses; 3. include emerging issues such as post-Kyoto climate change negotiations, albedo and other climate forcing, and timing of emissions and removals; and 4. incorporate discussion of non-GHG sustainability impacts. Work programme (examples) 1. Revise the standard methodology for the GHG analysis of bioenergy systems to consider indirect land use change (LUC), albedo and other climate forcing, and timing; 2. Demonstrate the utility of the improved standard methodology by assessing case studies that are of interest to participating countries; 3. Prepare policy papers on key emerging issues; and 4. Hold workshops on topical issues of relevance to participating countries.


39. Commercialising Liquid Biofuels from Biomass
The objective of the Task is to facilitate commercialization of liquid biofuels, with primary focus on 1st and 2nd generation biofuels including a mandate to consider next generation fuels. As a prolongation of Task 39, the proposed Commercializing Liquid Biofuels from Biomass Task will build upon work done in the current Task 39. Through active engagement with Task members, other Task supporters and stakeholders including government, industry and research communities, the Task will conduct coordinated activities in three main programme areas: - Technology and Commercialization that includes improvements to catalyze and expand use of bioconversion and thermochemical technologies for 2nd generation biofuels and consideration for next generation technologies. - Policy, Markets and Implementation that address policy, legislative/regulatory and infrastructure issues. - Information Dissemination and Communication to facilitate knowledge transfer among IEA members and other stakeholders.


40: Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade: Securing Supply and Demand
Clearly, the strongly growing demand for biomass and biofuels make clear that there is a growing need to develop biomass resources and exploit biomass production potentials in a sustainable way and to understand what this means in different settings. In some markets, prices of biomass resources and fuels are already rising, including indirect effects on price of raw material prices for e.g. the forest industry as well as on food (e.g. sugar). Biomass markets are still immature and this is in particular true for the demand side of the market; many biomass markets, e.g. for solid fuels, rely on policy objectives and incentives, that prove to be volatile. It is particularly important to develop both supply and demand for biomass and energy carriers derived from biomass in a balanced way and avoid distortions and instability that can threaten investments in biomass production, infrastructure and conversion capacity. Our understanding of how this is best organised and managed needs further improvement. International biomass markets have been mapped by Task 40, but to date available analyses, statistics and modelling exercises still have limitations The core objective of the Task remains ‘to support the development of a sustainable, international, bioenergy market, recognising the diversity in resources, biomass applications’. Developing the sustainable and stable, international, bioenergy market is a long-term process. The Tasks aims to provide a vital contribution to such (policy making) decisions in the coming years for market players, policy makers, international bodies as well as NGO’s. It aims to do so by providing high quality information and analyses, providing overviews of developments, be a linking pin between different arenas involved in the debate, a clearinghouse for information and by targeted dissemination activities. Key elements of the work programme and outputs are: biomass supplies; sustainability and certification; trade, market and demand dynamics; transport, logistics, and trade; and outreach and dissemination. The Task aims to do so by delivering high quality information and analyses, providing overviews of developments, be a linking pin between different arena’s involved in the debate, a clearinghouse for information and by targeted dissemination activities. Opportunities for industry and research partnerships are specifically sought after, aiming to more networking type events to draw in business.


42. Biorefineries: Co-production of Fuels, Chemicals, Power and Materials from Biomass
The major objective of the Task for 2010 – 2012 is to asses the worldwide position and potential of the biorefinery field, and to gather new insides that will indicate the possibilities to come to new breakthrough, competitive, sustainable, safe and eco-efficient processing routes for the simultaneous manufacture of transportation fuels, (CH)power, food, feed, and added-value bio-based products (chemicals, materials). The information provided can be used by national and international governmental organisations to develop bioenergy-related policies, industrial stakeholders for focussing their RTD and deployment strategies on the most promising (i.e. sustainable) Biomass Value Chains, NGOs to be included into their renewable energy scenarios, and research institutes and universities to focus their applied and strategic research programmes. The work will be carried out in two parts: 1. Gathering and combining information in participating countries to achieve an industry focused view on the working field. 2. Building a network on biorefineries in participating countries with industry, governments, NGOs, and researchers. Expand the focus to a European and global level, develop best practice guidelines, and test them regarding their ability to support the long-term objectives.


43. Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Markets
The objective of the Task is to promote sound bioenergy development that is driven by well-informed decisions in business, governments and elsewhere. This will be achieved by providing to relevant actors timely and topical analyses, syntheses and conclusions on all fields related to biomass feedstock, including biomass markets and the socioeconomic and environmental consequences of feedstock production. The Task covers all aspects of feedstock, its markets and environmental as well as socio-economic impacts. It has a global scope and includes commercial, near-commercial and promising production systems in agriculture and forestry. The primary focus is on land use and bioenergy feedstock production systems including their markets. The Task will be concerned with issues related to the linking of sustainable biomass feedstocks to energy markets, explicitly considering environmental and socioeconomic aspects. Systems analysis integrating several disciplines will be used to conduct analyses that allow evaluation of alternatives across sectors and explicit examination of issues related to tradeoffs, compatibility and synergies between food, fibre and energy production systems and related markets. One central aim is to achieve strong outreach and impacts as a result of Task activities. The Task will have a strong international impact by producing and providing timely and policy-relevant science and technology syntheses to targeted audiences for policy analysis and bioenergy market development. The work programme is organized to effectively meet the Task objectives, addressing the questions: - How can we further develop and implement feedstock production systems to provide attractive solutions for energy security, climate change, and sustainable development? - How can policy and market based instruments effectively promote sustainable development, and how can science-based sustainability criteria and standards be formulated to take into account the vast regional variation in conditions for production of different feedstocks? - What are costs and gains associated with productivity, competitiveness and environmental performance of feedstock supply systems and how do they impact deployment and market penetration of the systems? - What are the motivations, opportunities and capabilities for producers in agriculture and forestry to change from conventional production systems and deploy or integrate sustainable bioenergy production systems in response to new demands? What are necessary and sufficient conditions for financial investment in developing feedstock production systems? Reports and other deliverables will be produced throughout the triennium, including policy-relevant reviews, case studies and science and technology briefs. All extensive reports will be complemented with executive summaries directed towards identified target groups that commonly represent a non-scientific audience. The Task will also selectively target central international conferences to maximize outreach. The planning of deliverables – including identification of target groups – is proposed to take place in dialogue with the other Tasks and with ExCo and the Task expects to work with the IEA Bioenergy Secretariat in order to maximize outreach.