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Bundles of energy: the case for renewable biomass energy

Issue paper, 94 pages
PDF  13556IIED.pdf (2.13 MB)

Biomass energy currently makes up 10 per cent of the world's primary energy supply mix, but the International Energy Agency predicts that this will rise to 30 per cent by 2050. Since non-OECD countries are disproportionately dependent on biomass energy (meeting 26 per cent of their energy needs) they could capitalise on this trend. By acting now to legalise sustainable biomass value chains, such countries could create a platform for more advanced biomass energy options in the future.~ ~When managed sustainably, biomass has significant advantages over other forms of energy in non-OECD countries, including local accessibility and energy security, low carbon emissions over long timeframes and the flexibility to be converted into heat, electricity, liquid or gas at a range of commercial scales. Per unit of energy, biomass production is also more labour intensive than other energy sources and may also hold the potential to boost rural employment and reduce poverty.~ ~This report aims to inform forest and energy decision makers in non-OECD countries of key issues surrounding the biomass energy boom. It describes the advantages and challenges of biomass, how it compares with renewable alternatives, and how to develop policy frameworks that optimise its impact on poverty reduction, climate change mitigation and the preservation of ecosystem services. It seeks to stimulate interest in the topic and promote serious discussion about how the full potential of biomass energy can be harnessed in the service of national interests.

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