The Future of Carbon-free Energy Technologies
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Valentina Bosetti and Michela Catenacci
Chapter 3: The Power of Biomass: Experts Disclose the Potential for Success of Bioenergy Technologies
Biomass is the biodegradable fraction of products, wastes or residues from agriculture, forestry, industry or households (Angelis-Dimakis et al., 2011). Biomass is a well-known and widely used renewable source of energy since it can be used to produce electricity, heat, but also liquid and gaseous fuels (McKendry, 2002a). Furthermore, biomass can be stored and energy can be produced on demand, contrary to other renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind, which are characterized by intermittency. Biomass energy plays a crucial role in climate change mitigation as emphasized in the IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources: relying more heavily on certain technological options such as perennial cropping systems, the use of biomass residues and wastes and advanced conversion systems could reduce emissions by 80 to 90 percent compared to the fossil energy baseline scenario (Chum et al., 2011). This chapter focuses on bioenergy technologies that convert biomass into electricity via thermochemical or biochemical conversion paths. Given the relevance of these technologies, we assess their potential and future costs. The production of liquid biofuels for the transport sector has been the object of a separate investigation, presented in Chapter 5 (Fiorese et al., 2013).
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