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EMF-33 insights on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

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This paper explores the potential role of bioenergy coupled to carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (BECCS) in long-term global scenarios. We first validate past insights regarding the potential use of BECCS in achieving climate goals based on results from 11 integrated assessment models (IAMs) that participated in the 33rd study of the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF-33). As found in previous studies, our results consistently project large-scale cost-effective BECCS deployment. However, we also find a strong synergistic nexus between CCS and biomass, with bioenergy the preferred fuel for CCS as the climate constraint increases. Specifically, the share of bioenergy that is coupled to CCS technologies increases since CCS effectively enhances the emissions mitigation capacity of bioenergy. For the models that include BECCS technologies across multiple sectors, there is significant deployment in conjunction with liquid fuel or hydrogen production to decarbonize the transportation sector. Using a wide set of scenarios, we find carbon removal to be crucial to achieving goals consistent with 1.5 °C warming. However, we find earlier BECCS deployment but not necessarily greater use in the long-term since ultimately deployment is limited by economic competition with other carbon-free technologies, especially in the electricity sector, by land-use competition (especially with food) affecting biomass feedstock availability and price, and by carbon storage limitations. The extent of BECCS deployment varies based on model assumptions, with BECCS deployment competitive in some models below carbon prices of 100 US$/tCO2. Without carbon removal, 2 °C is infeasible in some models, while those that solve find similar levels of bioenergy use but substantially greater mitigation costs. Overall, the paper provides needed transparency regarding BECCS’ role, and results highlight a strong nexus between bioenergy and CCS, and a large reliance on not-yet-commercial BECCS technologies for achieving climate goals.

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The authors would like to thank Kara Podkaminer and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments. The views expressed in this paper are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s institutions or funders. This research was partially supported by the intramural research program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. The findings and conclusions in this publication are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy, or the views of any of the institutions associated with this study’s authors.

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Correspondence to Matteo Muratori.

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This article is part of the special issue “Assessing Large-scale Global Bioenergy Deployment for Managing Climate Change (EMF-33)” edited by Steven Rose, John Weyant, Nico Bauer, Shinichiro Fuminori, Petr Havlik, Alexander Popp, Detlef van Vuuren, and Marshall Wise.

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Muratori, M., Bauer, N., Rose, S.K. et al. EMF-33 insights on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Climatic Change 163, 1621–1637 (2020).

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