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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
better context, the discussion of such impacts is addressed
in relation to the location of feedstocks
<Where?>
and also in
relation to land resources
<Mod5-Land Resources>
and overall
impacts
<Mod8-Impacts>.
IDENTIFYING FEEDSTOCK OPTIONS
The overall scale of feedstock supply is based on the level of
ambition that is ascribed for bioenergy across the various sectors
and also on the basis of bottom-up assessments of resource
availability. Where export options are included, the scale may
be quite large in comparison to national energy demand, and in
such cases bioenergy development can start to take on some
similar characteristics (positive and negative) to cash crops in
the agricultural sector. A key determinant will be the emphasis
on transport and heat and power sectors. For biofuels in the
transport sector, LDCs will need to focus on commercially
available pathways in the near-term, due to the barriers of
high cost and technical sophistication required to develop the
advanced generation biofuels. For feedstocks in the heat and
power sector, woody biomass is preferred, due to feedstock
quality and uniformity issues. The extent to which transport
and/or heat/power sectors are emphasised in the strategy will
also determine whether and when a more detailed analysis of
agriculture and forest sector feedstocks is needed.
It is important to consider whether the expected demand
can potentially be met through only wastes and residues
<Mod1-Techno-economic>
, which may have economic-
environmental advantages. There is a fundamental reason why
smaller LDCS especially need to consider wastes and residues
carefully in designing their strategy: because the overall scale
of energy use is low in most LDCs, the corresponding scale of
biomass resource demand in their bioenergy strategy may be
small enough to be met ONLY through wastes and residues.
When this is the case, it could be possible not only to avoid the
environmental impacts associated with dedicated energy crops,
but also to save the cost and time associated with the detailed
land suitability and availability assessments required for dedicated
energy crops; such assessments are quite challenging for LDCS
with weak institutional and technical capacity. The analysis could
instead focus on key sectors where wastes and residues can
be obtained, taking into account as appropriate the impacts of
removing agricultural residues and the alternative uses/markets
for wastes and residues. The defnition of waste and the careful
assessment of availability of waste and residues and potential
competing uses are a critical pre-condition, also with a view of
avoiding the creation of a perverse incentive to ‘create’ waste.
This step needs to be complemented by some iteration with
spatial analysis
<Where?>
in order to correlate the location of
feedstock demand and supply, i.e. based on the location of
existing or planned facilities and/or future expected sources of
wastes and residues.
The main forest sector options to be evaluated will include natural
resource management, planted forests and various wastes and
residues. Various schemes for utilising coppicing, use of dead
wood, and other low-impact methods can be used when demand
is limited and/or well-defned. Planted forests will have specifc
characteristics and requirements based on some combination
of industrial roundwood and energy demands
<Mod1-Techno-
economic>.
Agricultural sources can include agro-energy crops
and various types of waste and residues from plants and animal
<Mod1-Techno-economic: Wastes and Residues>
.
Mixed
agricultural and forest schemes might be considered where
there is capacity to integrate landscape ecology approaches
<Mod5-Land Resources>
and where spatial analysis is suffciently
detailed.
EVALUATING TECHNICAL CAPACITY
Before making decisions on specifc conversion platforms, it is
useful to consider the human resources and technical capacity
available locally, nationally and regionally to absorb and integrate
new technologies and products. Box 1 gives an overview of
different types of human resource capacity.
The technological absorption capacity at local, national and
regional levels can be evaluated based on labour market surveys,
education records and results from previous feasibility studies in
energy, forestry and agro-industrial sectors. It is logical to begin
with local capacity (where general feedstock locations are already
known) and proceed with national and regional-level expertise
(Figure 8). If there is little or no relevant expertise nationally or
regionally, then alternative feedstocks and conversion options
might be chosen or international expertise could be used. When
regional and international experts or consultants are expected to
be needed, there should be a technology transfer plan, so as to
insure the sustainable operation of the bioenergy system(s) and
its integration into local and national agro-industrial policies and
institutions.
ASSESSING CONVERSION PLATFORMS
In addition to the technical complexity of the various options,
choosing among the various feedstocks and conversion routes
is an inherently complex task for several reasons that need to be
considered already at the strategy design phase:
• There is no one-to-one mapping between feedstocks and
conversion routes and, nor between conversion routes and
energy carriers or products. Consequently system-based
Box 1: Tailoring Technology Choices to Human Resource Availability
A three-tiered assessment can be used to evaluate technology capacity, based on human skills, manufacturing capability and access
and process inputs as follows.
• Human skills:
includes the education and technical training in basic sciences (microbiology, biochemistry), engineering (e.g.
civil, chemical, electrical), applied sciences (food science, mechanics), technical services for operation and maintenance, and
various types of supporting services and component product industries, as well as the pool of less-specialised labour needed
for harvesting and other tasks.
• Manufacturing:
local, national and regional companies specializing in equipment and component design, construction
of buildings and factories, and process design and operation; also, the access to imported technology and operational
knowledge.
• Access to processing inputs:
local knowledge and/or access to imported knowledge concerning chemicals and other inputs
required for harvesting and processing of the feedstocks.
Source: adapted from FAO/BEFS, 2010b