Implementation of flexible bioenergy in different countries

May 2024

Status quo of implementation, barriers and policy framework

Task 44 publication on activity WP3 – Acceleration of flexible bioenergy concepts implementation

In energy systems with increasing share of variable energy sources like solar and wind, bioenergy has an increasingly important role to play, particularly in fields where alternative renewable energy sources are difficult or costly to provide. Climate-efficient and cost-effective flexibility of bioenergy is key, for example when providing flexible electricity, and also in different energy system services such as biofuels provision, renewable heat implementation as well as carbon capture and utilization options and the reduction of grid operation costs.

However, to unlock the enormous potential of flexible bioenergy’s contribution to the transformation of the energy system, favorable policy conditions are necessary (as they are for the whole energy system transformation). With this report we analyse the developments in flexible bioenergy implementation in 14 countries and the EU by circulating and evaluating a questionnaire to country specific bioenergy experts, who were contacted through the IEA bioenergy network.

The results show, that flexible bioenergy is considered in many different fields of application and differently prioritised between countries. The highest importance is seen in using flexible feedstocks and providing flexible power: Day-to-day and seasonal flexibility are stated as the most important for system integration and innovation and implementation pipelines are described. Also, flexibility in resource supply is well established. When it comes to flexible production of hydrogen or CO2, as well as poly-generation of energy and non-energy products, more countries indicate them as topics for research and demonstration. Between those early stage concepts, flexible bioenergy and BECCS can be seen as an emerging topic, as it is considered in many energy strategies.

Support mechanisms for the implementation of renewable energy production are stated, where most of them only support flexible bioenergy and system integration indirectly. Direct policy support is reported from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland andTurkey. However, to accelerate flexible bioenergy, insufficient policy instruments and market mechanisms are seen as main barriers in almost all investigated countries.

This report is part one of our analysis. The report on expectations of flexible bioenergy in different countries will follow in autumn 2024.

IEA Bioenergy Task 44_Implementation of flexible bioenergy in different countries