Innovation under Uncertainty

Innovation under Uncertainty

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

Innovation under Uncertainty presents original research and insights on innovation in carbon-free energy technologies. Valentina Bosetti and Michela Catenacci provide a complete and informative assessment of the current potentials and limits and offer a detailed analysis of what could, or should, be the drivers to support their success and large-scale diffusion. The results provided in this book offer important and concrete insights and recommendations concerning the development and the deployment of more efficient generation technologies, the demand for which will undoubtedly increase alongside the growing concern for environmental issues and global warming.

Chapter 3: The Power of Biomass: Experts Disclose the Potential for Success of Bioenergy Technologies

Giulia Fiorese, Michela Catenacci, Valentina Bosetti and Elena Verdolini

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, energy economics, environmental economics, environment, climate change, energy economics, environmental economics, innovation and technology, economics of innovation


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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