Bundles of energy: the case for renewable biomass energy
Every month we highlight a new, groundbreaking or bestselling IIED research outcome. This month we feature IIED's new publications Bundles of energy: the case for renewable biomass energy.
Biomass energy currently makes up 10% of the world's primary energy supply mix, but the International Energy Agency predicts that this will rise to 30% by 2050. Since non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are disproportionately dependent on biomass energy (meeting 26% 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.
This report and others noted below form part of IIED’s project: Biomass energy: optimising its contribution to poverty reduction and ecosystem services aiming to develop a South-South-North partnership to reshape the impact of a predicted large-scale expansion in global biomass energy use towards greater poverty reduction and maintenance of ecosystem services in developing countries.
Biomass energy is booming –– more than two billion people depend on biomass for their energy and the International Energy Agency predicts that biomass’ share of the global energy supply will treble by 2050. But in many developing countries it is still regarded as a traditional and dirty solution that is often criminalised, unsustainable and poorly paid. A more sophisticated approach that legalises and secures sustainable production by and for local people could help improve energy security, cut carbon emissions, protect forests and reduce poverty.