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Integrated analysis of global biomass flows in search of the sustainable potential for bioenergy production

Other type | 13-11-2014
Photo of a rapeseed field next to a grassland

Bioenergy is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets and for improving the security of energy supply, worldwide. This study identifies the potential increase in current and future efficiencies in using agricultural crops, residues and wood for bioenergy, taking into account current biomass production levels, the lifecycle phases of biomass products, waste flows and sustainable soil carbon management and forest management.

Potential for a more efficient use of biomass

The energy content of currently produced crops and their residues used for bioenergy and materials is 11 Exajoule (EJ), the energy content of the fuelwood used is 49 EJ/year and for timber products and paper this is 17 EJ/year. Crop residues that are currently left behind in the forest or burned on location could provide an additional 24 EJ/year, and a more efficient use of waste flows and forest residues an additional 21 and 18 EJ/year, respectively. Together, this represents a potential additional amount of energy of 63 EJ/year. This amount would more than double the current global bioenergy supply.

However, crucial to the utilisation of this additional potential biomass source is the feasibility of its processing, and of collection and transportation to accommodate geographical differences in supply and demand. There is potential for using crops and residues for biomass, worldwide, with the largest potential for wood being located in developing countries.

Author(s)G.J. van den Born, J.G. van Minnen, J.G.J. Olivier, J.P.M. Ros
Publication date13-11-2014