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Latest outlooks on biofuels
by Emily Jack-Scott, Aspen Global Change Institute
September 2020 Quarterly Research Review
Looking to the future, most scenarios that curb climate change to less than 2°C by 2100 rely heavily upon rapid scaling up of biofuels to offset emissions, especially within the transportation sector (including hard-to-decarbonize aviation and long-distance transport like trucking) as well as in the industry sector. Advocates point out that large bioenergy systems have the potential to not only displace fossil fuel emissions but sequester carbon in soils of feedstock crops, biochar, or when coupled with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS). Critics, however, point out that bioenergy at scale is land intensive, which will likely bring it into competition with food production (even with increasing crop yields), as well as habitat conservation and restoration priorities.
Two recent publications investigate questions about when and how biofuels and bioenergy can be sustainably deployed in the coming decades.
- Exploiting the Negative Emissions of BECCS to Enlarge the Carbon Mitigation Prospects for Transportation (via Synfuels Produced Using Biomass with CCS), and Help Get the Faltering CCS Enterprise Back on Track (via Coal/Biomass Polygeneration)
- The Role of Forest Bioenergy in the Global Carbon Cycle
- Biomass, Bioenergy, and Land Use
- The Past, Present, and Future of Biofuels
- Scaling Up Biomass/Biofuels
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