Analysis from the Energy Transitions Commissions (‘ETC’) shows that sustainable bio-resources will play a significant role in delivering net-zero emission outcomes and could reach 5 per cent of final energy demand by 2050. Materials such as woody biomass, non-food crops and waste residues can be used to displace fossil fuel usage as either an energy source or alternative feedstock. Sustainable bio-resources, therefore, can play an important role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors that cannot be fully decarbonised using direct electrification.
Sustainable bio-resources can also deliver ‘net-negative’ emissions because they absorb carbon when grown and deliver negative emissions during use when paired with carbon capture and storage. Activities that generate net-negative emissions are important because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This helps to maintain global temperature rises to within 1.5 degrees Celsius as per the goals of the Paris Agreement.
According to the ETC, demand for sustainable bio-resources could reach at least ~65 EJ/year which would exceed potential available supply of ~40-60 EJ/year. Around ~50 EJ of this would be used for energy and for the production materials like plastics.
This report by the Energy Transitions Commission analyses what is required to develop at least ~60 EJ supply (or more) of sustainable bio-resources per annum. Key actions across policy and industry will be critical to delivery. These include industry specific standards to promote the use of sustainable bio-resources, reducing food waste and increasing waste collection, establishing a sufficient carbon price and developing national bio-resource strategies to support activity across value chains. The report also analyses several end-use cases for bio-resources and builds the case for why certain sectors like aviation and plastics production should be considered high priority.