Missing: any mention of CDR in the latest IRENA bioenergy report

The International Renewable Energy Agency recently released a report (http://www.irena.org/remap/IRENA_REmap_2030_Biomass_paper_2014.pdf) detailing projected biomass energy supply and demand. Entirely absent from this report is any mention of biomass CCS projects or biochar — two techniques which could both be incredibly important for generating negative emissions and could affect biomass market fundamentals significantly.

Here’s how:

For one, if we rely primarily on biomass sources for CDR as the IPCC suggest we might (be it by midcentury, however), biomass demand could rise considerably. We could run into land constraints with large increases in our dependence on bioenergy:

Irena 1

This demand increase could also have considerable effects on biomass prices globally, as the supply curve from IRENA has a number of sharp step increases:

Irena 3

Most importantly, the need for biomass to achieve negative emissions significantly complicates IRENA’s final key finding:

“While biomass represents an important stepping stone in doubling the global renewable energy share, potential of other renewables should be expanded further with policy support…and reduce dependency on biomass resources.”

If biomass is critical for negative emissions, it becomes much less of a stepping stone and more of a long-term component of a decarbonized world. Needless to say, it will be interesting to watch how bioenergy reports begin to incorporate CDR over the coming years…

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