Following the entry into force of the Paris climate agreement in November 2016, policy makers and energy decision makers need to address the practical challenges of scaling up modern bioenergy rapidly and sustainably.
Meeting global climate goals requires a massive transition throughout the energy sector. This means rapidly decarbonising the world’s energy system, at the same time as ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all.
Yet the bioenergy supply chain is highly complex, involving multiple sources, technologies and end-uses, combined with ensuring sustainability within the food-energy nexus.
Assessing the potential output from any given site involves several key questions:
- Which feedstock is best for local production?
- Which technologies match the selected feedstock?
- What is the area’s production potential?
- What concerns might arise about sustainability?
To help address these questions, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has created a free, publicly available simulator for bioenergy development. The online tool allows to investigate numerous combinations of source, technology and end-use in a user-friendly manner.
Agricultural residues – encompassing 30 different residue types;
Livestock waste – covering 9 specific waste types;
Forest plantations – including 52 tree species.
25 production processes for bioenergy development:
6 types of biofuels among liquid, solid and gaseous fuels;
19 different bioenergy conversion technologies.
3 main bioenergy output:
Based on the user’s chosen geographic scope, the simulator can also:
Propose crops or residues suitable to the local agro-ecological conditions;
Identify key productivity factors;
Flag potential issues related to population density, protected areas and water scarcity;
Provide possible applications of the bioenergy produced.
IRENA’s Bioenergy Simulator builds on extensive literature review and expert advice. The resulting conversion values are to be taken as suggestions. Users, in turn, are encouraged to provide continual feedback and expert input. A feedback form is included to the simulator.
This simulator aims to raise awareness and help to prospect initial options; it is not intended as the basis for final technology choices or investment decisions.