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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
services in general for the whole country or region. Thus, it is
important that the bioenergy options identifed are also screened
within the context of the end-uses they serve, i.e. cooking,
heating, lighting, motive power and various commercial and
industrial applications.
Such a screening might ask the following question for the various
bioenergy options being prioritised: will this bioenergy option lead
to a higher quality energy service? For example, producing lighting
through electricity that has been generated from biogas is more
effcient (in terms of the energy service being provided) compared
to burning the biogas directly in a lamp. However, if two end-uses
are involved, e.g. if both lighting and heating are needed, then
the waste heat from burning the gas is used and there is less
advantage in using an electricity-only conversion route.
The point is simply to remember that the strategy should consider
not just the effciency of conversion processes themselves, but
also the effciency and quality in delivering the energy service.
Where? – Land and Resources
A careful assessment of the availability and suitability of land
resources is a key element in the bioenergy strategy process;
availability relates to existing uses and preferences, whereas
suitability refers to biophysical and climatic properties to support
growth of particular feedstocks
<Mod 5-Land Resources>
The land assessment can be the most complicated and
time-consuming part of the process, especially if exports
are a major part of the strategy. Land serves many different
needs and is increasingly becoming a scarce and contested
resource. Land is needed to grow food as well as for many
socio-economic purposes, including housing and infrastructure.
Land requirements are likely to increase due to demographic
developments and related demand increases. In addition land is
needed to address climate change and conserve biodiversity, and
thereby ensure availability of ecosystem services for sustaining
human activity and livelihoods. In order to place bioenergy within
the context of the many other demands on land resources, a
detailed geographical mapping exercise will often be needed to
support the bioenergy strategy.
If the ultimate level of bioenergy demand in the strategy is a
modest amount intended for domestic needs only, it may be
possible to provide suffcient feedstocks using wastes/residues
and extraction from natural forests alone; it may not be necessary
to conduct detailed spatial assessments on land suitability, which
can require considerable technical skills and fnancial resources
not easily available in some LDCs
<Identifying Feedstock
. It would nevertheless be necessary to evaluate
location and accessibility of residues, in some cases including
economic data obtained from previous feedstock/conversion
system assessments
Such a step is also useful when
larger-scale agricultural and forestry schemes are assessed, since
each of these will generate wastes and residues whose quantity
and location need to be determined.
It will also be necessary to ensure that wastes and residues can
be used in a sustainable manner by considering alternative uses
and impacts
<Mod 1-Techno-economic: Availability of Wastes
and Residues>.
Furthermore, assessments of woody biomass
also need to consider traditional biomass use, since it will affect
availability for modern bioenergy options and also to consider
useful synergies and avoid conficts in biomass use
– Sectors and Applications>
. Spatially disaggregated analysis
of wood demand can be a valuable tool for meeting biomass
demand while preventing deforestation (EUEI, 2009; FAO, 2003).
Where the sustainable use of natural forests and wastes or
residues is unlikely to be suffcient to meet demand, then some
type of spatial assessment will be required for agricultural and/
or forestry sources of biomass; the steps involved are somewhat
similar in both cases, although some separate steps are
appropriate for woody biomass as shown in Figure 9.
For agricultural biomass, a distinction is made between
agro-energy and existing agricultural production for food; care
should be taken with this distinction, however since there are
options for co-products as well as Integrated Food and Energy
Systems (IFES)
<Mod7-Innovative Approaches>
In the case of
woody biomass, a distinction is made between planted forests
and the use of natural forests. A spatially disaggregated approach
should be complemented with ground-truthing in priority areas.
The various steps are discussed briefy below.
Land suitability assessments provide a spatial specifcation of
the potential for bioenergy production for a region or country
from a biophysical prospective and based on geographical
information systems (GIS) data. Using the Suitability Assessment
Model, two steps or phases are needed (FAO, 2009). The frst
step is a Land Resources Inventory
<Mod5-Land Resources>
which synthesizes information on land resources, and overlays
an inventory of climatic resources, soil types, and landform
resources. The second step is the feedstock-specifc Land
Suitability Assessment itself, which considers those feedstocks
and production systems identifed in the strategy
<What? –
Feedstocks and Technologies>
. The result of the suitability
assessment is expressed in land suitability classes, ranging
from “very suitable” to “not suitable”. Where water scarcity is a
concern, the frst round of an assessment could be based only on
rain-fed conditions for the feedstocks considered.
The purpose of this step is to identify
high risk areas
by special ecological or environmental sensitivity where bioenergy
is constrained but not prohibited. The high risk areas might
include areas categorized by water scarcity, where feedstock
production can be permitted if management practices are
adopted that limit the risk of ecosystem service loss (Box 2).
High risk areas for feedstock production in terms of ecosystem
Conduct land
Identify high risk
Map existing
Assessment of land
availability and
Climate impacts
and adaptation
Evaluate market
Evaluate options for
utilising natural forests
Assess/map potential
areas for planted forests
Figure 9: Steps in evaluating potential agricultural and woody biomass feedstock location