New paper on the global limits of greenhouse gas emissions reduction through biomass Feb 08, 2017
Biomass can be used to produce different energy-products often otherwise produced from fossil fuels, such as electricity and heat and various liquid fuels. A multitude of studies exist that quantify the size of the global bioenergy resource, however, the potential greenhouse gas emission benefits from using bioenergy have not been studied at a global scale. In a new paper just published in the journal Nature Energy researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including U Hassselt Professor Robert Malina tried to shed light on this question.
The researchers use a model for land availability and areal yields is linked with a detailed model on lifecycle greenhouse gas emission of biomass-derived energy products (including emissions from land-use change) and their fossil counterparts to study the linkage between bioenergy availability and emission reductions in the year 2050.
The findings provide evidence for the hypothesis that GHG emissions mitigation via the use of bioenergy is constrained not only by the availability of biomass, as considered in previous assessments of bioenergy potential, but also by the lifecycle emissions of final bioenergy when land-use change is taken into account: The paper finds that GHG emissions reductions are maximized when deployment is limited to 29-91% of total primary bioenergy availability. In addition, the results show that while biomass-fired electricity and heat generation are, on average, more effective means of GHG mitigation than the production of biomass-derived liquid fuels, optimal bioenergy use requires a mix of end-uses to maximize GHG reductions.