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Bioenergy, the undervalued pillar of the clean energy transition

By District Energy posted 05-03-2021 12:51


Smart Energy International


Bioenergy is already the world’s largest source of renewable energy, responsible for 70% of the supply (and around 10% of total primary energy). Burning organic matter goes back to the invention of fire and is still commonplace around the globe. Yet it gets hardly any of the attention and policy support that’s given to other clean energy technologies like solar, wind and now hydrogen.

Bioenergy can and should play an even greater role, explain Seungwoo Kang and Elisa Asmelash at IRENA, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors like cement, chemicals, aviation and shipping. Fundamentally, its organic make-up allows it to substitute for fossil fuels. Produced sustainably, it can make farming and forestry beneficiaries of the transition. It can also create revenue streams for waste and residue. The production of the various new bio-technologies (from petrochemicals, polymers and cement clinker to biomethanol, biojet, advanced biofuels and BECCS) is still at an early stage of development and too costly, but that’s why the policy support is needed. The authors end with their recommendations to policy makers to help them develop strategies that uncover the full potential of their nation’s biomass resources.

The urgency of action to combat climate change calls for a swift and drastic transformation of global energy systems, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy, supported by increased efficiency and the reduction of total consumption. The goal is to create energy systems that guarantee a secure and affordable energy supply for all populations, while also protecting the environment and the climate.

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