2017 outlook: A global future for bioenergy

Remigijus Lapinskas, president of the World Bioenergy Association gives his predictions for 2017.

2016 was a positive year for the global climate negotiations. 120 countries ratified the Paris Agreement limiting the global warming to less than 2°C. With the ratification, countries pledged to reduce fossil fuel use, increase energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy technologies. These pledges are now turned to action. The agreement will be the major driver for all renewable energy sectors including bioenergy.

To meet the goals of the Paris agreement, bioenergy will play a significant role and it is estimated that bioenergy can contribute at least 150EJ (56EJ in 2013) to the energy supply sustainably in the near future.

Last year saw major developments for the bioenergy sector. The sector employed more than three million globally. Innovative developments in the aviation industry witnessed airports offering biojet fuels and airlines and manufacturers, e.g. United Airlines, KLM, Cathay Pacific, Boeing and Airbus launching biofuel flights around the world.

Studies showed that bioenergy is crucial for sustainable development, dispelling myths about issues like land use, water use and food and fuel. Countries pledged higher blending mandates and targets for biofuels and bioenergy. Power plants increased the shift from coal to biomass.

For the future, the growth of the bioenergy demand (e.g. pellets) in Asia will be one to watch. Decarbonising the heating sector via replacing fossil fuels with biomass for combined heat and power production for district heating will be prominent. In addition to this, efficient energy recovery from municipal solid waste and agriculture residues along with innovation and finance in these sectors will be crucial. Elsewhere, another promising green trend will be the use of biofuels in transportation.

All biofuels irrespective of their definition (advanced, conventional and first generation etc.) should be developed based on their emission savings to satisfy the increasing demand in transportation including aviation and maritime sectors, heavy duty transport and agriculture machinery.

A strategy for a step-by-step and year-by-year reduction of fossil fuel use globally and nationally will be important.

The key instrument will be carbon tax — a simple and efficient way to reduce the use of fossil fuels, improve energy efficiency, and make renewables competitive.

The importance and support of local and national governments will be essential.

World Bioenergy Association (WBA), as the global voice of sustainable biomass to energy industry, will work towards strengthening the national and regional associations, creating of regional bioenergy hubs/branch offices to favour bioenergy policy and opening new markets worldwide.

This story was first published in the January/February 2017 edition of Bioenergy Insight and written by Remigijus Lapinskas, president of the World Bioenergy Association, and edited by Liz Gyekye, editor of Bioenergy Insight. 



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