Econonomics of Energy and Environmental Policy

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Can Bioenergy Assessments Deliver?

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The role of biomass as a primary energy resource is highly debated. Next generation biofuels are suggested to be associated with low specific greenhouse gas emissions. But land consumption, demand for scarce water, competition with food production and harmful indirect land-use effects put a question mark over the beneficial effects of bioenergy deployment. In this paper, we investigate the current state of bioenergy assessments and scrutinize the topics and perspectives explored in the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change. We suggest that an appropriate assessment requires a comprehensive literature review, the explicit exposition of disparate viewpoints, and exploration of policy-relevant content based on plausible "storylines". We illustrate these storylines with the IPCC's emission scenarios and point out routes to improve assessment making on the future role of bioenergy.
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JEL Codes:O13: Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products, Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, L97: Utilities: General

Keywords: Bioenergy, Assessment, Tradeoffs, Sustainability, Scenarios

DOI: 10.5547/2160-5890.1.2.5

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Published in Volume 1, Number 2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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