Bioenergy and Sustainability: Bridging the Gaps

Bioenergy pipeline

 

A collaboration of 137 bioenergy experts from all over the world culminates in the launch of a report that documents current research results and recommendations on the production and utilization of bioenergy, together with future growth potential, taking things such as technologies, land use, feed stocks, impacts and government policy into consideration.

Experts from 82 different institutions located in 24 different countries have been collaborating over the last two years in an effort to analyze various issues regarding the sustainability of producing and using bioenergy. They will be releasing a report titled “Bioenergy & Sustainability: Bridging the Gaps” on the 28th September, 2015 at a symposium being held at the World Bank in Washington DC.

The authors will outline their key findings at the meeting, and will also discuss potential for expanding sustainable energy projects in developing countries, together with the role that bioenergy is likely to play over the next 15 to 35 years. The meeting is hosting invited guests from a variety of scientific institutions, as well as government agencies, non-government organizations, funding agencies and the World Bank. The goal is to plot a roadmap to ramping up global sustainable bioenergy production.

In compiling the report, the authors reviewed more than 2000 research studies on bioenergy production and use, and provide a thorough analysis of the present bioenergy sector, including: available technology, funding and markets, and the potential for sustainably expanding bioenergy use and production, while at the same time also reviewing potential impacts of bioenergy use and production.

The report discusses how the effect that expanding bioenergy production may have on existing energy sources and systems, as well as its potential impact on food production, environmental integrity, climate change, and sustainable development in both developing and developed nations. They present recommendations for formulating policy and for deploying a variety of bioenergy options — for example biogas, bioelectricity, or liquid biofuels, to name a few — in different locations around the world.

Report Highlights

The report highlights the valuable role that bioenergy plays as an alternative energy source, and its potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that negatively impact our environment and climate. The report also focuses on the opportunities bioenergy could offer in terms of mitigating climate change, offsetting environmental impacts of land degradation and deforestation associated with cattle farming agriculture, while at the same time providing energy security.

The report suggests that the implementation of sustainable bioenergy production systems and practices can also help offset greenhouse gas emissions released as a result of changes in land use or a reduction in biodiversity. They define sustainable bioenergy production techniques as a combination of utilizing different feedstocks and co-products, integrating bioenergy production with agriculture, agricultural-ecological zoning, planning at landscape level, enhancing yields, as well as other land management techniques suited to the local environment.

The authors conclude that there is sufficient land available throughout the world to expand biomass cultivation for use in bioenergy production — primarily in Africa and Latin America — where if produced sustainably, would not pose a threat to biodiversity or food security in the region. Furthermore, they provide evidence that suggests poor people living in rural areas in these regions could benefit from improved food quality, reduced pollution, job creation and economic growth as a result of soil enhancing technology, availability of bioenergy products, and being integrated into the production chain.

To download the complete open access report click on the following: http://bioenfapesp.org/scopebioenergy/index.php/chapters

Image Credit: "Biogas pipes" by Vortexrealm, Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons, via Wikimedia Commons