EMF-33 insights on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

This paper explores the potential role of bioenergy coupled to carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (BECCS) in long-term global scenarios. We first validate past insights regarding the potential use of BECCS in achieving climate goals based on results from 11 integrated assessment models (IAMs) that participated in the 33rd study of the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF-33). As found in previous studies, our results consistently project large-scale cost-effective BECCS deployment. However, we also find a strong synergistic nexus between CCS and biomass, with bioenergy the preferred fuel for CCS as the climate constraint increases.

Specifically, the share of bioenergy that is coupled to CCS technologies increases since CCS effectively enhances the emissions mitigation capacity of bioenergy. For the models that include BECCS technologies across multiple sectors, there is significant deployment in conjunction with liquid fuel or hydrogen production to decarbonize the transportation sector.

Using a wide set of scenarios, we find carbon removal to be crucial to achieving goals consistent with 1.5 °C warming. However, we find earlier BECCS deployment but not necessarily greater use in the long-term since ultimately deployment is limited by economic competition with other carbon-free technologies, especially in the electricity sector, by land-use competition (especially with food) affecting biomass feedstock availability and price, and by carbon storage limitations.

The extent of BECCS deployment varies based on model assumptions, with BECCS deployment competitive in some models below carbon prices of 100 US$/tCO2. Without carbon removal, 2 °C is infeasible in some models, while those that solve find similar levels of bioenergy use but substantially greater mitigation costs.

Overall, the paper provides needed transparency regarding BECCS’ role, and results highlight a strong nexus between bioenergy and CCS, and a large reliance on not-yet-commercial BECCS technologies for achieving climate goals.

This article is available on the publisher’s website via restricted access.


PBL Authors
Detlef van Vuuren Vassilis Daioglou
Other authors
Matteo Muratori
Nico Bauer
Steven K. Rose
Marshall Wise
Yiyun Cui
Etsushi Kato
Matthew Gidden
Jessica Strefler
Shinichiro Fujimori
Ronald D. Sands
John Weyant


Publication title
EMF-33 insights on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage
Publication date
20 August 2020
Publication type
Publication language
Climatic Change
Product number