But our analysis shows that biomass-based heat could actually be competitive with oil, and often also with gas, in many circumstances ranging from domestic heating to larger industrial heat plants. The barriers to more wide-spread use of biomass for heat are in these cases non-economic, and include lack of awareness and the absence of locally available biomass sources.
With wood pellet production scaling up rapidly, biomass can easily be traded and we expect to see more pellet boilers being installed - in particular in OECD countries. In the longer term, biomass could become an important low-carbon source for high-temperature heat for instance in the metal industry. EB: Several Southeast Asian countries are investing in biomass energy projects that use agricultural waste and effluent from oil palms.
What do they need to do to ensure such projects are environmentally sustainable? AE: It is difficult to give a general answer, because not every plant that uses residues or palm oil effluents is set up properly. For instance if you have a biogas digester that is not per cent tight, methane will leak and emit to the atmosphere, where it acts as a very potent greenhouse gas. It is therefore important to ensure that a biogas plant is set up according to best practice.
It will then not only generate electricity and heat, but also avoid methane emissions that would have occurred if the effluents would have been stored in an open lagoon next to the plant. So in this case there is a clear environmental benefit, but it is important that the by-products from the biogas digester are used in a proper way, for instance to fertilise plantations rather than discarded into the next river.
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Fuel Sustainability Brief: Biofuels | Reports | BSR
Subscribe to our newsletter. Poverty 2. Hunger 3. Health 4. Education 5. Gender equality 6. Water 7. Energy 8. Economic growth 9. Infrastructure Inequality Cities Consumption Climate Oceans The report stresses that governments should adopt mandatory sustainability standards for biofuels, and ensure they are internationally aligned, to avoid acting as barriers to trade.
An overall sustainable land-use management strategy for all agricultural and forestry land will be the only way to avoid land-use changes with negative impacts on the environment and CO2 emissions, and to support the wide range of demands in different sectors. The report stresses that reducing tariffs and other trade barriers will be important to expanding the trade in biomass and biofuels to reach the levels necessary to meet emerging demand in different regions of the world. International co-operation will also be needed to further develop analyses of sustainable land and biomass potentials, and obtain detailed regional data on suitable feedstocks for biofuel production.
To ensure developing countries can successfully adopt sustainable biofuel production, international collaboration on capacity building and technology transfer will be necessary, the report stresses. Developing countries interested in introducing biofuels can profit from the experience of other regions, including lessons learned and best practices for biofuel production, as well as the government policies that can help ensure that required investments are beneficial for local economies. The IEA prepared the Technology Roadmap Biofuels for Transport in consultation with representatives of government, industry, academia and non-governmental organizations.
The use of biofuels derived from wastes, such as UCO, is particularly high in the UK compared to other countries, while the proportion from corn has fallen in recent years. Supply of biofuel in the UK by feedstock type. The new report recommends the UK retains this principle as a way to drive the adoption of second-generation biofuels. One report estimated the UK has a potential annual domestic supply of nearly 16m tonnes of various types of waste, which could be used to produce around 3bn litres of biofuel — roughly twice what the UK currently uses.
Green waste such as garden waste , agricultural straw and waste paper together make up over four-fifths of this.
Biofuels in the UK. Infographic by Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief. The UK part of this infographic was updated in January to reflect a mistake made in the REN21 source data, which incorrectly indicated the UK produces large amounts of hydrogenated vegetable oil. This has now been updated with data from the UK government.
The report brings together a wide range of estimates from different studies on the future of biofuels. Some of these suggest that as much as one-third of global transportation fuel could come from biofuels by , while others predict more modest potential.
But, as the report warns, any increase in biofuels must only be made if a risk-based approach is taken to ensuring the use of biofuels cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside incentivising development of lower-risk, second-generation biofuels, the report supports the setting of a more stringent cap for supply of crop-based biofuels, in order to reduce the risk of indirect land-use change. It also recommends incentives to ensure that, where possible, marginal land not suited for food production is used to produce biofuels from energy crops.
It also pushes for audit and certification schemes to be strengthened to ensure the local situation is taken into account. In the case of biofuels made from wastes and residues, meanwhile, it argues clear and consistent categorisation is needed to avoid unintended market distortions. The UK continues to hesitate over the use of biofuels to decarbonise the transport sector, although plans to further increase the use of waste rather than food crops to produce them could open the door to higher targets. This new report says the UK government should step up action to increase the use of biofuels in transport, in order to tackle emissions.
Importantly, the authors also argue that the future development of biofuels needs to be adjusted, depending on how the UK energy system develops over the coming years. For example, the report says a rapid growth of windfarms could result in surplus electricity, which could be used to produce hydrogen. This is a competing low-carbon fuel which could, in the longer term, reduce the need for biofuels. Get a Daily or Weekly round-up of all the important articles and papers selected by Carbon Brief by email. Backyard operation to process used cooking oil for use as fuel in diesel vehicles at Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK.
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Policy context Glossary. Biodiesel meanwhile is an… Read More. For example, if farmers who previously grew food crops on land… Read More. In-depth: The challenge of using biofuels to cut transport emissions. Related Articles. Emissions cuts using biofuels could worsen water stress in US, study suggests Technology August 8.
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Related IEA Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport
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