IRENA Report Forecasts Positive Future for Biomass Industry
A new report out from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts that biomass could provide 20% of global electricity by 2030. If biomass’ full potential is realized, biomass could represent 60% of global renewable energy usage by 2030.
Biomass has a number of different uses, from power and heat, to powering transportation, and even for industrial and commercial uses.
The majority of biomass usage is in relation to cooking and heating. While many champion biomass as the potential future of renewable energy, others worry that it could lead to extensive deforestation and higher carbon emissions. Also of concern is that energy crops will take up space needed for consumable food, leading to a spike in food prices.
In trying to calm the critics, IRENA said that 40% of the global biomass supply would come from agricultural residues and waste, neither of which competes with the food supply. They also believe that a large amount will come from sustainable forestry products. IRENA believes that biomass is an essential part of any country’s renewable energy portfolio, as it provides for a reliable source of energy that can be used when less reliable sources, such as wind and solar, aren’t meeting demand. Still, they admit that innovation needed for truly sustainable biomass systems is still a little ways off.
“Sustainable bioenergy has the potential to be a game-changer in the global energy mix,” Dolf Gielen, IRENA director of innovation and technology, said. “Sustainably sourced biomass, such as residues, and the use of more efficient technology and processes can shift biomass energy production from traditional to modern and sustainable forms, simultaneously reducing air pollution and saving lives.”
Biomass has been highly successful in the past few years, producing a record 7% of the U.K.’s energy in Q2 2014. Some believe that with the right policy support, biomass could be the leading renewable energy source in the world.
“It's vital that we get more flexible biomass generation into our low carbon power supply as well as more wind,” Dr. Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Agency in the U.K., said. “Biomass has reached a new record, but this valuable growth won't continue unless the Government puts supportive policies in place.”
The full report can be found here.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.