THREAD: Bioenergy use in the @IEA Net Zero 2050 scenario

I have seen a few comments that the IEA uses loads of bioenergy. Let's have a look...

First up, overall, bioenergy use is lower than in equivalent scenarios assessed by the IPCC, particularly in 2050.

2. An important detail is that the IEA assumes traditional biomass is gone by 2030. Traditional bioenergy "is unsustainable, inefficient & polluting, & was linked to 2.5 million premature deaths in 2020"

The IPCC only has a slow drop, so the IEA must build up modern bioenergy.
3. In terms of modern bioenergy, the IEA has similar levels as the IPCC up until 2050.
* Rapid growth to 2030 is to compensate traditional bioenergy
* Slowdown to 2050 is to limit to 100EJ per year, view by many as sustainable.
4. Where is the bioenergy used?
* Big drop in traditional use
* Electricity: Provides balancing for wind/solar & can be used with CCS (BECCS) for CO₂ removal
* Heat: 50% district heating
* Industry: pulp/paper, steel, ...
* Transport shift from road to air (50% in 2050)
5. Where does the bioenergy come from?

A large part of the growth is organic waste & forest residues.

25EJ is from short-rotation woody crops & 10EJ from forestry plantings. These last two require land.
6. The land puzzle is hard to figure out. Some land is for bioenergy crops and some is for forests.

"The total land area dedicated to bioenergy production in the NZE increases from 330 Mha in 2020 to 410 Mha in 2050"
7. For bioenergy crops:

"There is 130 Mha of land used for short‐rotation advanced bioenergy crops in 2050 & 10 Mha for conventional bioenergy crops" (140Mha in 2050, no information on pathway to 2050).

Land use is less than most IPCC scenarios in 2050.
8. "There is no overall increase in cropland use for bioenergy production in the NZE from today’s level & no bioenergy crops are developed on forested land in the NZE"
9. Forest bioenergy:

"In 2050, ~270 Mha is forest, representing
around one‐quarter of the total area of global managed forests & around 5% of total forest

I guess this is forestry plantations for bioenergy? Not possible to compare this to IPCC.
10. "Total land use for bioenergy in the NZE is well below estimated ranges of potential land availability that take full account of sustainability constraints, including the need to protect biodiversity hotspots"
11. The discussion of bio is reasonably detailed, spread in different parts of the report. I would not say the scenario is extreme on bioenergy, but generally less bioenergy than in the IPCC.

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More from @Peters_Glen

19 May
The IEA Net Zero 2050 scenario uses quite a lot less Bioenergy with Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS) than scenarios assessed by the IPCC.

Consequently, all else equal, the IEA NZE2050 uses less fossil fuel in 2050 than most IPCC SR15 scenarios.

The IEA, in contrast, has a decent (not huge) amount of Direct Air Capture (DACCS) of 0.6GtCO₂/yr.

Not many scenarios assessed by the IPCC SR15 use DACCS (4 out of 53 have non-zero data, the other 2 marked have zero DACCS)

The scenario with high DACCS is from MERGE-ETL.

Since IEA NZE2050 reaches net-zero CO₂ emissions in 2050, the removals (tweets 1 & 2) must balance with (residual) emissions in 2050.

The NZE2050 clearly has far less fossil fuel use in 2050 than most IPCC SR15 assessed 1.5°C scenarios.

Read 7 tweets
18 May
The new @IEA Net Zero by 2050 report is crystal clear on what is needed.

"All the technologies needed to achieve the necessary deep cuts in global emissions by 2030 already exist, & the policies that can drive their deployment are already proven."…

"Clean energy innovation must accelerate rapidly, with governments putting R&D, demonstration and deployment at the core of energy and climate policy."

In 2030 only existing technologies needed, by 2050 new technologies also come to market.

Net Zero 2050 is a jobs bonanza.


"The transition to net zero brings substantial new opportunities for employment, with 14 million jobs created by 2030 in our pathway thanks to new activities and investment in clean energy"

More jobs than losses...

Read 10 tweets
10 May
What explains the generally poor performance of solar in energy-system models (versus reality)?

* Type of organisation
* Type of model

* Cost
* Technology & policy assumptions

"IPCC scenarios consistently project lower PV adoption pathways & higher capital costs than non-IPCC scenarios"

Academics & researchers are behind the curve... (or are they just exploring the uncertainties?)

If you think the track record on PV costs are bad, then you have missed the elephant in the room

Model, model setup, model assumptions, etc, are more important. This is such a misunderstood issue.

Read 8 tweets
10 May
Norwegian electricity production is dominated by hydropower, & overall Norway is a net exporter of electricity (though, this varies throughout the year).

Hydropower production varies due to weather (green), but consumption is relatively constant (black line).

Total energy consumption is dominated by hydropower (figure shows generation, not consumption).

Nearly all the oil is used in transport, and nearly all the gas is used in oil & gas extraction.

Norway is already quite electrified...

The energy flow is dominated by electricity (hydropower, split between dispatchable & non-dispatchable).

As time passes, this figure will become even more dominated by electricity. Current policy is to electrify transport & oil & gas production...…

Read 4 tweets
7 May
There is a lot of confusion about net-zero GHG & CO₂ emissions, they are different.

The EU & US have a target of net-zero GHG emissions in 2050, which is ~20 years ahead of the global average (coincidentally, global net-zero CO₂ emissions is ~2050).

For developing countries to have a later net-zero GHG year, say 2090 (~20 years after the global average), it requires that developed countries are net negative to compensate developing countries & maintain net-zero GHG globally. (a point often made by @Oliver_Geden).

I think we all agree & accept developing countries will find their own path to net-zero, & one that is later than developed countries.

But, I also think many confuse the net-zero years for CO₂ & GHG emissions.

Many obsess on 2050, when there is actually a broad range!

Read 4 tweets
7 May
A 🧵 on carbon budget uncertainties (for walkers)...

It is 2km to the lake, which means it could be 1.5km or 2.5km given rounding.

If I have walked 1km, then it is 0.5km to 1.5km to go. That is a huge uncertainty!

Carbon budgets are often presented for 66% chance (of avoiding the target), which in this analogy, would say after 1km that if I walk 0.5km further there is a 66% chance I have not reached the lake.

Or after 1.5km, there is a 33% change I have still not reached the lake!

There are a few issues here. There will be a non-zero probability I have reached the lake after only 1km, which means the measurements were wrong.

Carbon budget uncertainties for 1.5°C also include negative carbon budgets, meaning it may already be too late to avoid 1.5°C!

Read 5 tweets

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