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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
evaluation is needed for various combinations of options in
addition to the analysis of specifc options.
• There are various co-products obtained in almost all
paths, which have potential applications that must also be
considered if cost-effectiveness is to be prioritised.
• Some pathways result in fuels and co-products across
different energy carriers, including heat, mechanical power,
electricity, liquid fuels, gaseous fuels and hydrogen; while this
can be an advantage in resource utilisation and effciency,
taking advantage of the different carriers requires more
sophistication in matching output to markets/demand and
in the technical capacity for establishing and maintaining the
supporting infrastructure.
This inherent complexity calls for considerable technical expertise
in evaluating and comparing various feedstock/conversion
platforms; the complexity deepens when considering the
availability of soft and hard infrastructure and the heterogeneity
of the feedstocks and technologies themselves. Consequently,
a technical assessment of conversion options must be
accompanied by an evaluation of the technical capacity to absorb
these technologies (IEA, 2007).
The assessment at this stage is spatially general in nature (i.e. not
based on specifc locations) and should include specifcation of
any associated infrastructure requirements related to feedstock
supply and the operation of conversion platforms. The spatial
characterisation will generally be based on a detailed land
suitability/availability analysis
that is conducted as a
next step.
Inclusion of pre-or post-processing options in the strategy
design phase is limited to those cases where technology options
lend themselves to some type of feedstock preparation (e.g.
compaction of agricultural crop residues) or when specifc
markets require refned products (e.g. biodiesel or wood pellets).
Decisions on what types of pre and/or post–processing to use
should be based on an assessment of intended markets and
applications, the spatial extent of biomass applications, and the
question of whether export markets will be pursued in a signifcant
way; such questions will in some cases be left to the project
level, if they do not have broader impacts or special infrastructure
requirements. Pre-processing options may be especially needed
for large-scale conversion options that require transport of
biomass feedstocks. Post-processing options may be needed
when large export markets are involved; an exception is the case
of bio-ethanol, since it is already essentially a fnal high-quality
product. For small and/or spatially limited domestic markets, little
pre-or post-processing may be needed.
The assessment of transport and distribution requirements is part
of the bioenergy system analysis, and can include many different
types of transport, including the following:
• Transport of biomass to the factory or processing facilities;
• Transport for pre-processing and post-processing stages that
may involve separate facilities;
• Distribution of any associated co-products as needed and
• Logistical requirements for the various inputs used within the
bioenergy system;
• Transport distribution of fnal products; and
• Long-distance transport for exports.
In many least developed countries, road transport may be the only
feasible option, but some countries have developed or adapted
rail transport systems for biomass feedstocks and bioenergy
products. For fnal product transport, multi-mode options may
arise, including various shipping options for exports, the use of
pipelines for liquid biofuels and connecting road and rail networks.
Another related set of concerns includes the logistics of moving
biomass/bioenergy, which will often involve specialised equipment
rather than general purpose trucks or railcars, and thus always
entails higher costs.
The plan for prioritising specifc biomass feedstock and
conversion technologies has some direct implications for the
expansion of energy access and the improvement of energy
Is there local human
capacity for the
feedstock/ conversion
options considered?
Evaluate local
technology absorption
Conduct analysis on
applicability of
national expertise.
Develop register of
regional experts and
companies that could
be available
Is there national level
human capacity that
can be mobilised?
Is there human
capacity in
countries that can be
Choose alternative
and/or develop
plan for using
including a
transfer plan
Figure 8: Partial schematic for evaluating human capacity and technology absorption