Biomass: striking a balance between energy and climate policies. Strategies for sustainable bioenergy use
Bioenergy is the most versatile energy source among the renewables and supplies more energy than wind and water power, solar energy and geothermal energy combined. A consistent bioenergy policy must ensure that the use of bioenergy has no negative social and ecological consequences and makes a maximum contribution to climate protection. The working group „Bioenergy“ of the Academies‘ Project Energy Systems of the Future suggests:
- Residual and waste materials can be used to generate energy at low risk. In Germany, there is great potential for waste wood, straw and animal excrement. If they are processed energetically, they could cover up to 17 percent of Germany’s future primary energy requirements.
- For sustainable use, bioenergy must be used in a systemically appropriate manner: It can take over those functions in the energy system for which other renewables are unsuitable. Bioenergy could, for example, power ships and aircraft or supply heat for industrial processes.
- Climate models show that CO2 will have to be extracted from the atmosphere in the future in order to achieve the Paris climate targets. One option is to capture carbon dioxide in bioenergy plants and store it permanently underground (BECCS). This approach should be taken into account in future bioenergy applications.
- A sufficiently high CO2 price and certification systems can ensure that bioenergy benefits the climate. They are most effective when they include not only bioenergy sources but all agricultural products.