Understanding the consequences of changing biomass demand for energy

AUTHORS: Catherine Bowyer-Silvia Nanni-Ben Allen-David Baldock-Jean-Pierre Schweitzer

What are the impacts of different levels of demand for biomass for energy? and What level of biomass demand for energy will be sustainable in the future? These are questions that a new study by IEEP in partnership with IIASA, Oeko Institute, European Forest Institute and Indufor, seeks to answer.

The resource efficiency of biomass demand for energy study, for the European Commission, explores the potential impacts, interactions, and implications for resource efficiency that could come from increased bioenergy demand. It shows that unregulated increases in demand for biomass for energy will lead to increased pressure on forests both in and outside of Europe. This manifests in the intensified use of existing forests, this could lead to biodiversity losses and high competition for wood between sectors. The introduction of policies to protect the environment could help avoid these problems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land use change.

The EU is working on new policies that would limit the region’s future emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. These include both the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive and a new bioenergy policy post 2020. Bioenergy can be produced from all kinds of plant material, including wood and wood by-products. But while sustainability standards already exist for transport biofuels, the EU does not have standards for solid and gaseous biomass used for electricity and heating. The European Commission therefore requested this study to assess how increasing bioenergy demand would affect forests, the forestry industry, and other sectors that rely on biomass The analysis was completed using the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) and Global Forest Model (G4M) land use model to analyse a number of scenarios of biomass use for energy up to 2050.

Access the report here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/studies.htm#4

Link to the ReceBio project page.

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