Five cornerstones to unlock the potential of flexible bioenergy, 2021

Nov 2021

The discussion paper is a summary of IEA Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme Task 44 to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing, to raise awareness for the important potential of flexible bioenergy in sustainable energy system integration, and to explore issues and solutions to fully realise this potential. The target audience of the paper are people interested in energy policy, renewable energy, energy networks, as well as energy industry, fuel producers, regulators, operators, scientists and informed stakeholders.

A large portfolio of innovative technologies is needed to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). Achieving least-cost reliable and sustainable energy systems is a global challenge. Renewable energy sources are key for all energy sectors to achieve climate neutral energy supply till mid of century at the latest. Driven by favourable policy environments, market opportunities and substantial cost reductions, variable renewable energy (VRE) like wind and solar photo-voltaic (PV) are increasingly important energy sources to expand energy access and enable electrification based on clean energy. This essentially changes the structure and operation of the power systems, but also influences the renewable energy provision for heat and transport sector.

Bioenergy, which was in the past mainly applied for heating and cooking, is now a key option in fields where alternative renewable energy sources are difficult or costly to provide. Those options for bioenergy are for example seen in the aviation sector, heavy duty transport, in high temperature industry heat, but also in enhancing renewable energy supply systems for residential heating during cold seasons or for electricity, especially if it comes to higher provision from VRE like wind and PV.

Flexible bioenergy provides additional value to different energy sectors and can accelerate the transformation towards renewable energy systems. The discussion paper describes the current role of flexible bioenergy in the energy system and identifies potentials and bottlenecks, future pathways and five cornerstones for the successful implementation of flexible bioenergy systems.

Five cornerstones to unlock the potential of flexible bioenergy