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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 2: Designing a Strategy
generally in warm climates where infrastructure is poor and where
the demand for heat will tend to be in industrial applications, and
therefore may be spatially dispersed. Off-grid applications, such
as liquid fuels in an IC-engine or woody biomass in a small-scale
gasifer, may therefore emerge as more feasible options that can
also improve local energy services.
Among the major debates in designing a bioenergy strategy is
how much to focus on domestic uses of bioenergy vs. export
strategies. Normally this debate is applied to the case of liquid
biofuels for transport, since the demand for transport fuels in
developed countries is quite large in relation to the scale of
domestic demand in developing countries. However, the export
question can arise for solid biomass fuels as well, including
charcoal, wood pellets and other options.
A summary of some examples for domestic and export options
across different bioenergy types is given in Table 5. Some biofuels
not yet commercially available are included in the last column;
although many of these options are unlikely to be feasible for most
developing countries in the near-term, it is nevertheless useful
to consider future options for bioenergy strategies that have a
long time frame for planning purposes and for those that have a
signifcant research component. Furthermore, some awareness
of the competing options that may emerge in the future OECD
countries can inform the strategy process.
Of importance at this stage (i.e. analysing sector/end-use
priorities) are those options that cut across sectors or can be
produced for both domestic and export markets. Ethanol is not
only fexible across sectors (transport, cooking and heat/power)
but also as a domestic or export product; this is because it is
a fnal product that can meet international standards, whereas
oil-based fuels have to be refned in order to become international
commodities. Another example is wood pellets, which offer
a compact and versatile form of bioenergy for applications in
households and in heat and power production.
A variety of interconnected economic development issues
arise when the policy objectives in the bioenergy strategy are
viewed in relation to sector characteristics and potential end-use
applications. Some useful questions to consider are:
• Can energy access goals be addressed by improving
the availability of biomass residues that are by-products
or potential additional bioenergy feedstocks from small
• Are there key inputs for agriculture (e.g. fertilisers) that can be
provided through expanded bioenergy production in adjacent
areas and what are the options for establishing delivery
systems for these inputs?
• Are there potential linkages between the infrastructure needed
for transport, power, and communications needs (e.g. off-grid
power for new communications systems)?
• Are there under-served demands in selected industries for
heat and power that can be met by expanding the supply
of biomass feedstocks in the vicinity – and if so what
infrastructure is lacking to complete the bioenergy supply
• Are there elements in the regional transportation infrastructure
that can be better exploited either for end-use biofuel markets
or for distribution and supply of bioenergy feedstocks? If not,
what are the prospects for advancing those regional linkages
as bioenergy markets develop further?
The bioenergy strategy needs to balance the objectives of
improving energy access and stimulating rural development
with the need to attract investment in the larger-scale projects
needed for transport and power. The identifcation of innovative
combinations of infrastructure along with a better articulation of
the demands of end-users in households and small business will
help to facilitate the cross-sector synergies.
In synthesising and concluding an evaluation on the question
of “Which” sectors and applications, a key element is some
type of mapping of current and future demand across sectors
and end-uses. This mapping starts with the baseline demand
Domestic fuels
Export options
Not yet commercialised
Liquid biofuels
(for transport or other)
• Unrefned oils
• Ethanol
• Methanol
• Refned oils
• Ethanol
• Pyrolysis oils
• Biobutanol
• Biogasoline
Solid biofuels
(for heat and power)
• Wood pellets
• Wood chips
• Briquettes
• Wood pellets
• Chips
• Torrefed biomass
Solid biofuels
(for household/institutional)
• Charcoal
• Agricultural residues
• Fuelwood
• Charcoal
• Wood pellets
• Wood chips
• Biochar
Gaseous biofuels
• Biogas
• Synthesis gas
• Pyrolysis gas
Feedstocks, carriers, and
• Agricultural residues
• Municipal solid waste
• Black liquour
• Waste oils
• Oilseeds or oils for refning
into biodiesel
• Lignin (by-product of
lignocellulosic ethanol)
• Carbon-rich chains
• Bio-hydrogen
Table 5: Examples of domestic and export options for different bioenergy types
NOTE: Export=international fuels; domestic fuels may nevertheless be exported in small amounts