Results Of The Global Bioenergy Potential Assessment

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A large number of variables for which scenarios and ranges are given are included in calculations of the technical potential. Consequently, a large number of outcomes are possible. For the global assessment of bioenergy, the results are presented for four scenarios that vary with respect to the management level and the animal production system. These four scenarios are selected because in all four the global consumption of food in 2050 can be met without increasing the area of agricultural land and in order to keep the amount of results manageable and to limit the scenarios to plausible cases. E.g. the combination of a high level of technology for the production of food crops and a low level of technology used in the animal production system (low feed conversion efficiencies) is considered illogical. The production systems are shown in Table 9.4.

Table 9.4 Overview of systems included

in this study

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

Scenario 4

Feed conversion efficiency

high

high

high

high

Animal production system

mixed

mixed

landless

landless

Level of technology for crop

very high

very high

very high

super high

production

Water supply for agriculture

rain-fed

rain-fed/

rain-fed/

rain-fed/

irrigated

irrigated

irrigated

For the other variables the following scenarios are included: medium population growth, medium increases in per capita food consumption, high plantation establishment rate, high level of advancement of technology for the production of bioenergy crops and the application of irrigation. The total potential for bioenergy production (bioenergy from bioenergy crops, agricultural residues) is shown in Figure 9.7.

In all four systems significant areas of land are available for bioenergy production in 2050, ranging from 0.7 Gha, 1.2 Gha, 3.3 Gha and 3.6 Gha in system 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. The total production potential of bioenergy in the four scenarios is 364 EJ/yr; 607 EJ/yr; 1,270 EJ/yr and 1,545 EJ/yr. Biomass from harvest and processing residues accounts for 76 EJ/yr to 96 EJ/yr (in scenarios 1 and 2 and scenarios 3 and 4 respectively) and biomass from surplus forest growth contributes 72 EJ/yr.

Figure 9.7 Total bioenergy production potential in 2050 in scenarios 1 to 4 (EJ/yr)

Most of the bioenergy production potentials come from areas of surplus permanent pastures, indicating the large areas permanent pasture presently used and the large potential efficiency gains. Comparison of scenario 2 and 3 also show a large impact of the animal production system on land use. A shift from pastoral and mixed production systems, which use feed from grazing, to a fully industrialised, stall-fed system, in which all animal feed comes from feed crops, results in large surplus of land areas. The impacts of animal production systems are also visible in the availability of harvesting and processing residues. The high(er) demand for feed crops in scenarios 3 and 4 creates high(er) production of processing and harvesting residues compared to scenarios 1 and 2. Irrigation is another important factor. The application of irrigation increases the bioenergy potential considerably, as a comparison of scenario 1 and scenario 2 shows. The surplus production potential of wood from natural forests is estimated at 72 EJ/yr (regional results not shown), although various limiting factors, such as the exclusion of undisturbed forest may reduce this potential to zero.

The regions with the highest bioenergy production potentials are in the developing regions of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean & Latin America and East Asia. These three regions account for more than half of the global potential. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean & Latin America the potential originates from the large areas of land suitable for crop production and the present inefficient production systems. The land balance in East Asia is less favourable, but the growth in population and consumption is lower. The large potential for C.I.S. & Baltic State bioenergy production arises from a combination of drivers. Due to the collapse of communism and the economic restructuring afterwards, GDP and consumption have decreased, resulting in a decrease of yields and production. It will take several years to decades before consumption levels are back to levels common in the Soviet period. In addition, the population is projected to decrease to 2050. Consequently, the agricultural land area is relatively large compared to the projected demand for food, which makes the potential of these regions the greatest of all regions.

A prerequisite for bioenergy potential in all regions is that the present inefficient and low-intensive agricultural management systems are replaced in 2050 by best practice agricultural management systems and technologies. In addition, per capita food consumption projections for 2050 in these regions have not reached saturation levels and under nourishment may not be eradicated completely. Thus, the potential for bioenergy may be limited if food intake (income) increases more than projected in this study.

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