Flexible Bioenergy and System Integration

Task 44: Flexible Bioenergy and System Integration

The ongoing energy transition is mainly driven by reductions in the cost of wind and solar energy, and political efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Although substantial deployment of variable renewable energy (VRE) is an important part of the overall transformation, rapid changes in the energy mix may pose challenges to the resilience of the electricity grid, particularly in times of weather-related stress. As fossil generation capacity is being retired and replaced by VRE generation, it raises the important question of how to maintain the stability and reliability of future energy supply.


Although climate and energy policies are still largely focussed on electricity, most of the energy is used for heating, cooling, and transport. These sectors have remained deeply reliant on fossil fuels and significant decarbonisation efforts are needed to ensure that the overall emission pledges of the Paris Accord can be met. In addition to sector-specific measures, it is essential to recognise the links between electricity, heat and transport and exploit synergies so that these sectors will support each other’s in the effort to decarbonise.


The task is based on the work done in IEA Bioenergy Task 41 special projects during 2016-17: Project 5: Bio-CCUS in climate change mitigation and extended use of biomass raw material, Project 6: Bioenergy in balancing the grid & providing storage options and Project 7: Bioenergy RES hybrids. As a common conclusion from these projects, bioenergy has some unique properties that can address many of the problems related to the rapid transition to a low-carbon energy system. Three different development pathways identified in Project 6 have been further developed for the purpose of this task: When sustainably sourced and used, bioenergy can

  1. operate as a key element in the coupling of different energy sectors;
  2. provide low-carbon energy to complement wind and solar (residual load and grid stabilisation);
  3. store electricity chemically into fuels to enable more efficient use of wind and solar;
  4. provide sustainable fuels for sectors where other decarbonisation options are not available or exceedingly expensive;
  5. provide high temperature heat to industry, and low temperature heat for buildings (and sanitary water) during dark and cold seasons;
  6. coproduce heat, electricity, fuels and other products in a single high-efficiency processing plant.


Achieving these objectives requires a fundamental shift in the way bioenergy is being used, but there is currently a limited understanding on the details of such change.

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Task 44: Flexible bioenergy and system integration
October 28, 2019
IEA Energy Technology Network IEA Bioenergy, also known as the Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP) for a Programme of Research, Development and Demonstration on Bioenergy, functions within a Framework created by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Views, findings and publications of IEA Bioenergy do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of its individual Member countries.