Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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10.2.6 Biomass and Small Scale Renewables

Renewable sources of energy can provide energy in the final form required by users while emitting significantly less GHGs than fossil fuels. Carbon emissions are present through the use of fossil fuels during the process of planting, harvesting and storage of the renewable resource and its transformation into a commercial form of secondary energy.

Technology improvements in biomass productivity, harvesting and collection, and conversion are expected to further reduce GHG emissions by:

  • Increasing the yield of biomass forests and plantations;
  • Gasifying biomass as an intermediate step for gas turbine based electricity generation or cogeneration or other high efficiency combined cycle concepts;
  • Converting ligno-cellulosic materials to ethanol for use as a motor fuel. This is one of the few possibilities in the near term to displace fossil fuel in the transportation sector because of existing distribution infrastructure (Interlaboratory Working Group, 1997).

When regarding other small scale renewable technologies it is very important to consider the historic technological improvements. Wind propelled electric generators and photovoltaics have been able to reduce their cost for generating electricity but costs are still relatively high as compared to small-scale hydroelectricity and geothermal generation. These are options with lower unit costs, but for which cost reduction potential is more difficult to identify. Technical feedback and increasing economy of scale will lead to further cost reductions. Opportunities for commercial-grid-connected wind and photovoltaic-based electricity production systems will allow these technologies to be part of the large-scale renewables framework, today primarily consisting of hydro and biomass based electricity generation. Use of small-scale hydroelectricity and geothermal generation are other options.

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