Biomass contributes to world energy sustainability

By Kris Bevill
Web exclusive posted Oct. 31, 2008 at 9:43 a.m. CST

The European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace International recently released an updated second edition of "Energy (R)evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook" as a blueprint for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and moving the world towards more sustainable energy practices. Biomass is one of the renewable energy markets highlighted in the report as offering an "increasingly attractive option" to accomplish this outcome.

The report claims that an energy revolution is necessary to reverse climate change and alter the way energy is produced. The report lists five principles necessary for the shift to happen:
  • Implement renewable solutions, especially through decentralized energy systems.

  • Respect the natural limits of the environment.

  • Phase out nuclear and coal energy sources.

  • Create greater equity in the use of resources.

  • Decouple economic growth from the consumption of fossil fuels.

"From around 2015 onwards, we are confident that renewable energies across all sectors will be the most cost effective energy capacities," EREC director Oliver Schäfer said. "The renewable industry is ready and able to deliver the needed capacity to make the energy revolution a reality. There is no technical impediment but a political barrier to rebuild the global energy sector."

According to the report, biomass is currently the main renewable energy source used throughout the world. Renewable energy sources in total provide approximately 13 percent of the world's energy demands. If measures recommended are taken, renewable energy contributions could jump to 56 percent of the world's total energy supply by 2050, according to the study. The report's "development pathway" includes the expanded use of biomass for combined heat and power (CHP) as well as heat supply in order to reach the 56 percent goal by 2050.

The report recommends phasing out all fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, establishing legally binding targets for renewable energy and CHP generation, as well as increasing research and development budgets for renewable energy.

The report can be viewed in its entirety at