Technology Roadmap: Bioenergy for Heat and Power

Technology Roadmap: Bioenergy for Heat and Power
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Edition: 2012
68 pages

Release Date: 29 May 2012


The Technology Roadmap Bioenergy for Heat and Power highlights the importance of bioenergy in providing heat in the buildings sector and in industry, and shows what contribution it could make to meeting steadlily growing world electricity demand. The critical role of sustainability as well as the importance of international trade in meeting the projected demand for bioenergy, are highlighted in the roadmap, as well as the need for large-scale biomass plants in providing The roadmap identifies key actions by different stakeholders in the bioenergy sector, and sets out milestones for technology development in order to achieve a doubling of global bioenergy supply by 2050. It addresses the need for further R&D efforts, highlights measures to ensure sustainability of biomass production, and underlines the need for international collaboration to enhance the production and use of sustainable, modern bioenergy in different world regions.

Key Findings

  • Bioenergy is the largest source of renewable energy today and can provide heat, electricity, as well as transport fuels. This roadmap envisages world total primary bioenergy supply increasing from 50 EJ today to 160 EJ in 2050, with 100 EJ of this for generation of heat and power.
  • In line with analysis in the IEA World Energy Outlook 2011, this roadmap aims at the deployment of advanced biomass cookstoves and biogas systems to 320 million households in developing countries by 2030. This deployment is essential as part of a sustained effort to provide universal access to clean energy.
  • By 2050 bioenergy could provide 3 000 TWh of electricity, i.e. 7.5% of world electricity generation. In addition heat from bioenergy could provide 22 EJ (15% of total) of final energy consumption in industry and 24 EJ (20% of total) in the buildings sector in 2050.
  • Bioenergy electricity could bring 1.3 Gt CO2-equivalent (CO2-eq.) emission savings per year in 2050, in addition to 0.7 Gt per year from biomass heat in industry and buildings, if the feedstock can be produced sustainably and used efficiently, with very low life-cycle GHG emissions.
  • Large-scale (>50 MW) biomass power plants will be important to achieve this roadmap’s vision, since they allow for electricity generation at high efficiencies and relatively low costs. Co-firing biomass in coal-fired plants provides an opportunity for short-term and direct reduction of emissions, so avoiding the “carbon lock-in effect” (the inertia that tends to perpetuate fossil-fuel based energy systems).
  • Smaller-scale (<10 MW) plants have lower electric efficiencies and higher generation costs, and are best deployed in combined heat and power mode, when a sustained heat demand from processes or district heating is available.
  • Biomass heat and electricity can already be competitive with fossil fuels under favourable circumstances today. Through standardising optimised plant designs, and improving electricity generation efficiencies, bioenergy electricity generation costs could become generally competitive with fossil fuels under a CO2 price regime.
  • Enhanced research, development and demonstration (RD&D) efforts will bring new technologies such as small-scale, high efficiency conversion technologies to the market. Development of biomass conversion to biomethane for injection into the natural gas grid could become one very interesting option, since it could exploit existing investments in gas infrastructure and provide flexible electricity.
  • Around 100 EJ (5 billion to 7 billion dry tonnes) of biomass will be required in 2050, in addition to 60 EJ (3 billion to 4 billion dry tonnes) for production of biofuels. Studies suggest such supply could be sourced in a sustainable way from wastes, residues and purpose grown energy crops.
  • International trade in biomass and biomass intermediates (pellets, pyrolysis oil, biomethane) will be vital to match supply and demand in different regions and will require large-scale development of biomass and its intermediates.
  • To achieve the targets in this roadmap, total investment needs in bioenergy electricity generation plants globally are around USD 290 billion between 2012 and 2030, and USD 200 billion between 2031 and 2050. In addition, considerable investments in bioenergy heating installations in industry and buildings are required. Total expenditures on feedstocks are in the range of USD 7 trillion to USD 14 trillion in 2012-2050, depending heavily on feedstock prices.
  • In the next 10 years to 20 years, cost differences between bioenergy and fossil derived heat and power will remain a challenge. Economic support measures specific to different markets will be needed as transitional measures, leading to cost competitiveness in the medium term. Such support is justified when environmental, energy security, and socio-economic benefits result.

Energy Technology Perspectives 2012:


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Publications and Papers:

  • Bioenergy Project Development & Biomass Supply (2007) (report)

Additional Information: