7.4 Biomass


In biomass production (Figure 7.8 and Figure 7.9), the quantity of forestry residues remains significant over time, but the steep increase in overall biomass consumption (tripling in NZ45 and NZ50 by 2050) results in a smaller share for this feedstock at around half the total in net-zero scenarios. In particular, agricultural residues grow rapidly and reach more than 30% of the total in 2050 for all NZ scenarios. This increase is also found in REF and CP2030 before 2030, although the divergence with net-zero scenarios in this respect is important beyond that point. Dedicated culture, landfill biogas and municipal organic waste play a lesser but sizeable role from 2050.

Figure 7.8 – Bioenergy sources by type #

While biomass as a primary energy source is currently used for industrial purposes, space heating, as well as biofuels and electricity production, all net-zero scenarios show that the increase in demand would be driven by the different relative importance of each (Figure 7.9). Although space heating from biomass all but disappears by 2050 in net-zero scenarios, the considerable expansion of primary biomass from 2040 results from an increase in electricity generation (41% of the total for NZ50 in 2050), hydrogen production (37%), biofuels production (13%), and renewable gas production (5% of the total). Biofuels production increases rapidly by 2030 in NZ scenarios, as in REF and CP30, but is more constrained in net-zero scenarios afterward, given the significant emissions associated with their consumption.

Figure 7.9 – Primary biomass uses #

Overall, biomass expands extensively in all scenarios by 2030, primarily as a substitute for petroleum products in transport. This expansion is even more rapid in NZ scenarios than in REF. However, results indicate very considerable differences in the biomass mix after 2030 between REF and all other scenarios. Biofuels then become less important than BECCS in NZ scenarios, also leading to cessation in bioenergy-powered space heating and reducing industrial use to half what it is today. However, bioenergy’s role is constrained by the availability of the resource. Chapter 9 presents a sensitivity analysis of this particular issue.

General observation:

  • Bioenergy’s growing role in all scenarios is not more of the same: the mix of sources for biomass changes significantly (with agricultural residues taking shares away from forest residues), as does its main applications, as biofuels and electricity production with carbon capture increase their use of this resource.