Woody biomass availability and sectoral competition

A new study, which analyzed future woody biomass resource availability plus sectoral competition for biomass for energy and material use, showed the key question for biomass energy use not to be the amount of resources available but rather their accessibility and thus their price.

Woody biomass © tchara | iStock

Woody biomass

From a biophysical perspective, woody biomass resources are large enough to cover a substantial share of the world's primary energy consumption in 2050. However, these resources have alternative uses and their accessibility is limited, which tends to decrease their competitiveness with respect to other forms of energy.

Hence, the key question of woody biomass use for energy is not the amount of resources, but rather their price. The new study considered the question from the perspective of energy wood supply curves, which display the available amount of woody biomass for large-scale energy production at various hypothetical energy wood prices.

These curves were estimated by the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM), a global partial equilibrium model of forest and agricultural sectors.

The global energy wood supply was estimated to be 0.23 Gm3/year (0.165 EJ/year) when energy wood prices vary in a range of 0.30$/GJ (0.216$/m3). If household fuelwood is added to to energy wood, then woody biomass could satisfy 2.18% of world primary energy consumption in 2050. If primary forests are excluded from wood supply then the potential decreases up to 25% [1]. 

Figure 1. Global woody biomass use in 2050 for baseline scenario at different hypothetical energy wood prices.


[1] Lauri P, Havlík P, Kindermann G, Forsell N, Böttcher H, Obersteiner M (2014). Woody biomass energy potential in 2050, Energy Policy 2014 66:19-31.

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Last edited: 22 May 2014


Nicklas Forsell

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Ecosystems Services and Management

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