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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 7: Deployment and Good Practices
Module 7: Deployment and Good
of bioenergy technologies (or systems)
addresses the effectiveness of the institutional mechanisms and
supporting infrastructure that are used to implement commercially
available technologies; the application of
good practices
the sustainability of operating the bioenergy technologies and/
or systems. Deployment is thus based on technical options that
have been demonstrated commercially and does not consider
those options that have only been proven at pilot scale and/or
require further research or testing.
The combination of effective deployment and good practice
supports the implementation of a bioenergy strategy as well as
the success of particular projects or programmes. Deployment
efforts may require public-private partnerships and might, for
example, aim to address market barriers or provide common
infrastructure across a particular region for bioenergy initiatives.
Smaller Least Developed Countries generally do not have the
resources to develop new technologies, and therefore deploy-
ment and good practice are often key elements for a successful
bioenergy strategy or project.
The deployment of bioenergy technologies is rather different
from other energy sources since the feedstock part of the chain
is so crucial to socio-economic and environmental sustainability.
Furthermore, unlike other renewable energy sources, the feasibility
and effciency can depend on non-energy products (co-products)
as well as agro-industrial supporting services or processes for
distribution and transport. Thus it is often more relevant to evalu-
ate the bioenergy system as a whole rather than isolating aspects
of particular bioenergy conversion technologies.
In this module, an overview of good practices in agriculture and
forestry is combined with a systems-oriented perspective that
considers energy and non-energy goods and services; some
concrete examples of innovative deployment and/or good
practice are provided. The case of integrated food-energy
systems is highlighted as one such systems-based approach
in which multiple objectives and markets can be addressed in a
unifed manner by applying good practice and innovative deploy-
ment. Other examples of hybrid systems or those designed with
multiple objectives and markets are provided in order to illustrate
the role of effective deployment and good practice.
Deployment of Bioenergy Systems
In this section, the interface between bioenergy technologies,
markets and resource management is considered briefy by refer-
ence to some key aspects of deployment and based on previous
project or programme experiences. Some examples across the
different types of energy carriers (solid, liquid, gaseous, etc.) are
given in relation to how technologies or systems were deployed
and the institutional mechanisms that were used during the
process of implementation and deployment. The examples are
not meant to be representative in terms of economic or environ-
mental performance, but rather are meant to illustrate some key
factors to consider in designing and implementing a bioenergy
strategy and/or in relation to particular projects or programmes.
Bioenergy projects or programmes are almost always depend-
ent on a variety of site-specifc factors, both physical and
socio-economic, including climate, soils, feedstock type, energy
carriers, and maturity of end-use markets. Even for particular
conversion systems or technology options, there are no “one-
size fts all” solutions (ESMAP, 2005). The location-specifc
nature of bioenergy distinguishes it from almost all other energy
systems—renewable or non-renewable, in that it is much harder
to generalise about the ingredients for success. Consequently,
successful deployment in one location does not imply that
replication elsewhere will be straightforward. Furthermore, due to
the signifcant land that may be required for bioenergy production,
the impacts of the same bioenergy system may be quite different
in another location due to factors such as population density,
market demand, legal structure of land rights and the alternative
land uses in the region. Nevertheless, it is possible to learn some
lessons from experiences in projects or programmes where
particular deployment methods or good practices were used in
some aspects of their design and/or implementation.
One challenge in bioenergy deployment often involves how to
bring the relevant technology or system to the market at the
same time as the local or national demand is emerging; unlike
a commodity such as oil which is uniform and has established
markets, biomass is of heterogeneous quality and the markets
are diffuse and varied. In the transport sector, the approach has
tended to be to guarantee demand for fuel, as has been done in
some countries with transport fuel blending mandates. Normally
these countries already have production capability, so the market-
pull and demand-push go together, although the fact that biofuels
such as ethanol have multiple markets (potable, industrial, fuel)
also requires attention in terms of achieving bioenergy strategy
goals (Box 1).
A different approach to “market-pull” is illustrated by the case
of Sweden, where the biofuel market was built frst based on
technological-based demand through its ethanol bus programme
(Box 2). In this case, the
of the bioenergy system for
bio-ethanol was both preceded—and facilitated by—a
cal innovation
in the form of the ethanol bus engines. Domestic
production, i.e. the supply side was not a concern, as the idea
was to develop the demand side and allow supply to follow.
Although such innovations would not easily be domestically
developed in LDCs, there may nevertheless be opportunities to
use such technologies as a way of accelerating deployment.
Box 1: Malawi Ethanol Programme
The ethanol programme in Malawi is the only continuously running ethanol blending programme in Africa; it has been running for
almost 30 years, with the frst ethanol plant coming online already in 1982 and the second was inaugurated in 2004. Although the
ethanol blending programme in Zimbabwe began in 1980, it was discontinued in 1991-92 after a drought and also due to some
diffculties in negotiating renewed terms and conditions (ESMAP, 2005). Today the two Malawi ethanol plants, which are privately-
owned, have expanded to include industrial-grade ethanol as well as potable (spirits) and fuel-grade ethanol. The existence of three
markets for ethanol, however, means that the biofuel blending targets can and have been affected when greater amounts of ethanol
are sold into potable and industrial markets where the prices or terms are better in some cases; with only two plants and no regional
market in southern Africa, the domestic supply is therefore impacted. Nevertheless, the fexibility of three different markets, domestic
and international, can be especially valuable for a producer located in a small landlocked country like Malawi.