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Recycle: Bioenergy

Sustainable bioenergy could even out solar and wind variability and replace fossil fuels for industry, transport and buildings.


A report for the G20 Energy Sustainability Working Group

Bioenergy – already the world’s largest renewable energy source – could replace fossil fuels in a wide range of uses for industry, transport and buildings. Fed into power grids, biomass-based electricity can also help to even out variability of solar and wind power.

Circular Carbon Economy report 05, from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), highlights the crucial need to incorporate biomass to fully transform energy systems and create a completely climate-safe circular economy. Prepared for the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) under Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency, the study discusses both current and potential uses for renewable hydrocarbons derived from sustainable biomass.

Established and well proven for heat and power generation, biomass applications also span all types of end uses. Bioenergy sources represented 70% of renewable energy supply and 10% of total primary energy supply globally in 2017. Yet major challenges remain for biomass to replace fossil fuels more widely. As the report notes, certain policy makers and other stakeholders continue to hold unfavourable views of biomass.

Negative social and environmental effects can be avoided through careful regulation and ongoing technological innovation, the report finds. Informed decision-making, therefore, can help to maximise the role of bioenergy in the global energy transition.

Focusing on “Recycle” opportunities, the study forms part of KAPSARC’s Circular Carbon Economy collection, featuring contributions from international partners for G20 meetings in September 2020.

See IRENA’s Reduce: Non-bio renewables.

See the complete CCE collection.