IEA Bioenergy triannual conference 2021 – highlights

Dec 2021

Between 29 November and 9 December 2021, IEA Bioenergy held its triannual conference. The central theme of the conference was ‘The role of biomass in the transition towards a carbon neutral society’.

The conference consisted of 10 technical sessions and 4 panel sessions, spread over two weeks. Each day was dedicated to a central topic such as feedstock mobilisation/sustainability governance; transport biofuels; green gas; circular economy and industry; and bioenergy in the energy system. Almost 1200 people participated to one or more of the conference sessions. They were from around 90 countries from all over the globe.

This report provides an overview of the highlights of each session.

All information of the sessions (presentations, recording, highlights, poll results) is available on the session pages of the conference website

Overall takeaways of the conference:

  1. Reaching climate neutrality globally requires an unprecedented transformation of the energy system. Bioenergy’s role in decarbonisation is substantial, providing up to 20% of total energy supply in 2050.
  2. BECCS is one of the critical options to achieve negative emissions, combining renewable energy production with CO2 removal from the atmosphere.
  3. Bioenergy should not be considered in isolation, but as part of a broader bioeconomy in which materials, food and energy are co-produced.
  4. Sustainability governance is key. There needs to be a clear understanding of what sustainable biomass means and how much can be mobilized.
  5. Good practices of biomass mobilisation and use show multiple co-benefits (beyond energy and climate), e.g. rural development, waste management, soil improvement.
  6. Increased efforts for sustainable biomass mobilisation are needed. This also requires connecting a local and dispersed biomass feedstock base with centralised processing at scale.
  7. Transition is accelerating. Companies and sectors (energy providers, transport sectors, industries, …) are taking concrete steps towards climate neutrality.
  8. Priorities of biomass use will evolve and are gradually shifting to difficult-to-electrify sectors.
  9. Reliable and coherent political framework conditions are of key importance to motivate investments and to scale up new technologies.
  10. Flexibility (short and long term) is one of the key characteristics of bioenergy in an energy system with increasing shares of variable renewables.