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Bioenergy in the energy system

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

2:00 - 4:00 pm UTC

Bioenergy’s contribution to low-carbon energy systems

Bioenergy systems can provide multiple services and benefits to a low-carbon energy system.

Examples include technologies and concepts providing grid stability for a power system with large amounts of variable wind and solar energy; dispatchable production of energy and other products according to market demand; integrated poly-generation systems combining the production of heat, power, fuels and/or chemicals; long-term storage options such as biofuels and biochemicals; or ancillary services to support system reliability. Moreover, bioenergy can be combined with carbon capture and storage or utilisation (CCUS) providing opportunities for net negative emissions.

This session looked into technical options, expectations and success factors, as well as exemplary cases providing flexibility or negative emissions.

Elina Mäki, Senior Scientist, VTT, Finland
Jaap Kiel, Manager of Biomass Programme, TNO, The Netherlands


Expectation from energy system transition on bioenergy
Ilkka Hannula, Senior Energy Analyst, IEA International Energy Agency, France

Bioenergy options to serve renewable energy system
Tilman Schildhauer, Senior Scientist, Thermochemical Processes, Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland

Bioenergy in a Virtual Power Plant – Dispatch and ancillary services to stabilise the power grid
Alexander Krautz, Head of Business Development, Next Kraftwerke, Germany

Bio-CCS and bioenergy flexibility – Finding the balance
Christiane Hennig, Biomass in the Energy System Department, DBFZ German Biomass Research Centre, Germany

Bioenergy in a well below 2 degree world: expectations and success factors for long-term evolution
Daniela Thrän, Professor, Bioenergy and Bioeconomics, DBFZ German Biomass Research Centre, Germany



  • Reaching net‐zero emissions globally by 2050 requires an unprecedented transformation in how energy is produced, transported and used. In the IEA Net Zero by 2050 scenario, modern bioenergy use rises to 102 EJ in 2050, meeting almost 20% of total energy supply. In an energy mix dominated by wind and solar, sustainable bioenergy plays a major role in flexible energy generation, industry and transport, and is increasingly used in connection with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS).
  • Bioenergy can provide long-term flexibility services to the energy system (seasonal heat demand, or upgrading to storable renewable fuels), as well as short term flexibility services (balancing) to an electricity system with increasing shares of variable renewables like solar or wind energy. Flexible peak electricity production, CO2 mitigation and negative balancing power are important building blocks for a future energy system that bioenergy can deliver. There is a need to value these services.
  • ‘Virtual Power Plants’ (VPPs) are an aggregation of decentralized assets, which are monitored and controlled to provide dispatch and ancillary services to stabilise the power grid. Demand for flexibility at the wholesale and ancillary service markets will increase with increasing shares of PV and wind, which lead to higher electricity price differences. A VPP pool reduces the balancing costs. Biomass and biogas plants represent an important share of the VPP pool in Germany. For flexible bioenergy plants it is also important to consider the interaction with heat production (in CHPs).
  • Bio-CCUS and flexibility are expected to be two of the more important characteristics for bioenergy systems of the future, and there will be interactions (synergies/trade-offs) between these two services. A key aspect of integration of Bio-CCUS in already operating systems is how the addition of CCUS interacts with existing operation, in terms of technology, business models and value chain configurations. The type of operation will be guided by electricity market prices or other incentive schemes for providing flexibility services and by the potential revenue generated from CO2 removal.
  • There are important potential interactions and synergies between bioenergy and green hydrogen deployment. Bioenergy can provide biogenic CO2 that can be combined with green hydrogen to produce e-fuels. In that sense, hydrogen can also boost the output of renewable fuels in gasification systems or biogas upgrading systems through its reaction with the CO2 in these processes.
  • It is important to monitor and showcase good practices of flexible bioenergy systems, which can lead to further deployment. Policy and market conditions should sufficiently reward the flexibility services provided to the energy system.




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