Monday, May 9, 2011

IPCC: Most current liquid biofuels result in GHG emission reductions

The IPCC's Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation - SSREN, Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was published yesterday, see for press release, and document. 
This followed a plenary session in which the findings were "approved by member countries of the IPCC" in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates".  Somewhat bizarrely, this predates the publishing of the full report (c. 1000 pages) which will be on May 31.
On May 16 in Berlin, there will be an additional press conference followed by a "Public Presentation of SSREN".
Here are some key points of the SPM in relation to bioenergy.  They are far from exhaustive.  There are many more references both direct and indirect, as well as issues of structure and nuancing.


All bioenergy, regardless of whether sustainable or unsustainable, is classed as Renewable Energy (RE);


p6 (7 of pdf):


Biofuels accounted for 2% of global road transport fuel demand in 2008 and nearly 3% in 2009. The annual production of ethanol increased to 1.6 EJ (76 billion litres) by the end of 2009 and biodiesel to 0.6 EJ (17 billion litres) [1.1.5, 2.4, 3.4, 4.4, 5.4, 7.4].


p8 (9 of pdf):


The overall impact of a global mean temperature change of below 2°C on the technical potential of bioenergy is expected to be relatively small on a global basis. However, considerable regional differences could be expected...


p11 (12 of pdf):


important areas of potential technological advancement include... next-generation or advanced biofuels, e.g., lignocellulosic


p13 (14 of pdf):

A variety of technology-specific challenges (in addition to cost) may need to be addressed to enable RE to significantly upscale its contribution to reducing GHG emissions. For the increased and sustainable use of bioenergy, proper design, implementation and monitoring of sustainability frameworks can minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits with regard to social, economic and environmental issues. [SPM.3, 2.2, 2.5, 2.8]

p15 (16 of pdf):

In order to accommodate high RE shares, energy systems will need to evolve and be adapted [8.2,8.3]... integration of less mature technologies, including biofuels produced through new processes (also called advanced biofuels or next-generation biofuels)...  will require continuing investments in research, development and demonstration (RD&D), capacity building and other supporting measures [2.6, 3.7, 11.5, 11.6, 11.7].


p16 (17 of pdf):


RE offers the opportunity to contribute to social and economic development, energy access, secure energy supply, climate change mitigation, and the reduction of negative environmental and health impacts. [9.2] Providing access to modern energy services would support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. [9.2.2, 9.3.2]... non-electrical RE technologies also offer opportunities for modernization of energy services, for example... biofuels for transportation, biogas and modern biomass for heating, cooling, cooking and lighting...


o Most current bioenergy systems, including liquid biofuels, result in GHG emission reductions, and most biofuels produced through new processes (also called advanced biofuels or next generation biofuels) could provide higher GHG mitigation. The GHG balance may be affected by land use changes and corresponding emissions and removals.


p18 (19 of pdf):


o Water availability could influence choice of RE technology.

There is no mention of fertilizer supply issues;


p23 (24 of pdf):


Government policies play a crucial role in accelerating the deployment of RE technologies... RE specific policies for research, development and demonstration and deployment help to level the playing field for RE. Policies include regulations such as... biofuel blending requirements, and bioenergy sustainability criteria. [, 2.ES, TS.2.8.1]


p24 (25 of pdf):


Policies have promoted an increase in RE capacity installations by helping to overcome various barriers. [1.4, 11.1, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6]. Barriers to RE deployment include:

institutional and policy barriers related to existing industry, infrastructure and regulation of the energy system;

market failures, including non-internalized environmental and health costs, where applicable.

lack of general information and access to data relevant to the deployment of RE and lack of technical and knowledge capacity; and

barriers related to societal and personal values and affecting the perception and acceptance of RE technologies. [1.4, 9.5.1,]...


Some policies have been shown to be effective and efficient in rapidly increasing RE deployment.  However, there is no one-size-fits-all policy...


An increasing number of governments are adopting fiscal incentives for RE heating and cooling. Obligations to use RE heat are gaining attention for their potential to encourage growth independent of public financial support.

In the transportation sector, RE fuel mandates or blending requirements are key drivers in the development of most modern biofuel industries. Other policies include direct government payments or tax reductions. Policies have influenced the development of an

international biofuel trade.

p25 (26 of pdf):


Additional knowledge related to RE and its role in GHG emissions reductions remains to be gained in a number of broad areas including [for details, see Table 1.1]:

Future cost and timing of RE deployment;

Realizable technical potential for RE at all geographical scales;

Technical and institutional challenges and costs of integrating diverse RE technologies into energy systems and markets;

Comprehensive assessments of socio-economic and environmental aspects of RE and other energy technologies;

Opportunities for meeting the needs of developing countries with sustainable RE services; and

Policy, institutional and financial mechanisms to enable cost-effective deployment of RE in a wide variety of contexts.


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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

Your idea?