The results in this chapter clearly show that the technical potential to increase crop yields and increase the efficiency of the animal production system is large enough to meet food demand in 2050 and reduce the area of agricultural land required for food production. Particularly, the potential efficiency gains in the animal production systems result in large surplus areas, up to 72% of the present agricultural land. The bioenergy production potential from these surplus areas are considerable, up to 1,471 EJ/yr. Other bioenergy potential assessments reveal that the potential for bioenergy varies globally between 40 and 1,100 EJ/yr with the bulk between 200 and 700 EJ/yr (Hoogwijk et al., 2002).10
The results of the global potential assessment show that all regions have a potential to produce bioenergy, but the conditions under which this can be achieved vary. The largest bioenergy potential comes from developing regions (notably sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean & Latin America), but these potentials require the improvement of production efficiency, the use of modern production technology and substantial increases in yields, up to an increase of 700%. The bioenergy production from the industrialised countries is less dependant on yield increases, due to decreasing population size and saturation of consumption. Industrialised regions are projected to exhibit decreasing agricultural land use as has been the case during the last decades (a trend frequently confirmed by outlook studies e.g. FAO (2003b)). The potential for bioenergy production in the transition economies may be regarded as the most robust potential. Due to the collapse of communism and economic restructuring afterwards, GDP and consumption have decreased, resulting in a decrease in production, agricultural land use and yields.
These results show that climate change mitigation policies aimed at the promotion of the sustainable production and use of bioenergy can have a major impact on global agricultural land use. Such a transition requires substantial increases in crop yields and efficiency and opens up new possibilities for income and jobs in the agricultural sector particularly in developing regions. To what extent this transition is going to be successful, depends partially on the costs of bioenergy production compared to fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources. This also includes costs of the transfer of technology to make the gains in yield and production efficiency possible. In reality, yield levels are the result of many complex interactions between numerous factors in the entire socioeconomic system (e.g. prices of land and labour, available infrastructure, natural circumstances, trade negotiations, interest rates, education level of agricultural workforce). These complex interactions are poorly understood and are difficult to quantify (Doos and Shaw, 1999; IFPRI, 2001b), but strong involvement of the industrialised countries (the potential bioenergy importing regions) is likely to be essential for a successful implementation.
10 The IMAGE model uses the scenarios (storylines) presented by the IPCC in their Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) as basis for the bioenergy potential assessments. The global potential is 311 EJ/yr in the A2 scenario, 324 EJ/yr in the B2 scenario, 659 EJ/yr in the A1 scenario to 706 EJ/yr in the B1 scenario in 2050 (Hoogwijk et al., 2004).
Therefore, a next step in the field of bioenergy assessments is the estimation of the implementation potential. Due to the many uncertainties described above, further research is required to allow assessments of the (regional) implementation potential and to make more accurate bioenergy potential assessments. Key priorities for future research are:
• Data reliability and availability. There is a lack of data on the following issues: use and sources of fuelwood, feed composition, feed conversion efficiencies, production capacities of natural pastures and the impact of various management systems, the extent and severity of environmental degradation, the impact of various management systems, implications of sustainable forest management and the impact of wood harvests.
• The dynamics on the socio-economic system that determines land use patterns and yields. Particularly the impact of large energy crop production systems on the costs of land and other production costs are uncertain. Further, substitution possibilities between various production factors (substitution elasticities) are relatively unknown and need to be addressed in national and sub-national case studies.
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