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The value of bioenergy in low stabilization scenarios: an assessment using REMIND-MAgPIE

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Abstract

This study investigates the use of bioenergy for achieving stringent climate stabilization targets and it analyzes the economic drivers behind the choice of bioenergy technologies. We apply the integrated assessment framework REMIND-MAgPIE to show that bioenergy, particularly if combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a crucial mitigation option with high deployment levels and high technology value. If CCS is available, bioenergy is exclusively used with CCS. We find that the ability of bioenergy to provide negative emissions gives rise to a strong nexus between biomass prices and carbon prices. Ambitious climate policy could result in bioenergy prices of 70 $/GJ (or even 430 $/GJ if bioenergy potential is limited to 100 EJ/year), which indicates a strong demand for bioenergy. For low stabilization scenarios with BECCS availability, we find that the carbon value of biomass tends to exceed its pure energy value. Therefore, the driving factor behind investments into bioenergy conversion capacities for electricity and hydrogen production are the revenues generated from negative emissions, rather than from energy production. However, in REMIND modern bioenergy is predominantly used to produce low-carbon fuels, since the transport sector has significantly fewer low-carbon alternatives to biofuels than the power sector. Since negative emissions increase the amount of permissible emissions from fossil fuels, given a climate target, bioenergy acts as a complement to fossils rather than a substitute. This makes the short-term and long-term deployment of fossil fuels dependent on the long-term availability of BECCS.

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Notes

  1. There are other options to generate net negative emissions, e.g., direct air capture technologies and afforestation. In contrast to biomass, they are not usable as primary energy carriers.

  2. This emission factor was estimated from MAgPIE results and assuming a global warming potential of 298 for N2O. Van Vuuren et al. 2010c report a similar value of 2.93 kg CO2 eq/GJ.

  3. The direct equivalent method was used for primary energy accounting. Since it accounts one unit of non-biomass renewable or nuclear energy for roughly three units of fossil fuels in electricity production, it tends to understate the contribution of renewables or nuclear in primary energy supply. Reductions in primary energy are partly due to a shift from fossil fuel combustion to non-biomasss renewables and nuclear energy.

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Acknowledgments

The research leading to these results has received support from the ERMITAGE project funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 265170.

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Correspondence to David Klein.

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This article is part of the Special Issue on “The EMF27 Study on Global Technology and Climate Policy Strategies” edited by John Weyant, Elmar Kriegler, Geoffrey Blanford, Volker Krey, Jae Edmonds, Keywan Riahi, Richard Richels, and Massimo Tavoni.

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Klein, D., Luderer, G., Kriegler, E. et al. The value of bioenergy in low stabilization scenarios: an assessment using REMIND-MAgPIE. Climatic Change 123, 705–718 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0940-z

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