Research has shown that extensive use of bio-energy could be a crucial factor in achieving stabilization at low atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration levels. First, bio-energy may play a key role in reducing emissions from the transport sector. Second, bio-energy may be used as feedstock to produce electric power, heat and hydrogen. The large-scale use of bio-energy is, however, controversial.
This paper explores the potential for bio-energy production, and the implications of different values for the attainability of low stabilization targets. The impact of scenarios of future land use, yield improvements for bio-energy and available land under different sustainability assumptions (protection of biodiversity, risks of water scarcity and land degradation) are explored. Typical values for sustainable potential of bio-energy production are around 50-150 EJ in 2050 and 200-400 EJ in 2100. Higher bio-energy potential requires a development path with high agricultural yields, dietary patterns with low meat consumption, a low population and/or accepting high conversion rates of natural areas. Scenario analysis using four different models shows that low stabilization levels may be achieved with a bio-energy potential of around 200 EJ p.a. In such scenarios, bio-energy is in most models mainly used outside the transport sector.