IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Dedicated energy crops

The energy production and GHG mitigation potentials of dedicated energy crops depends on availability of land, which must also meet demands for food as well as for nature protection, sustainable management of soils and water reserves, and other sustainability criteria. Because future biomass resource availability for energy and materials depends on these and other factors, an accurate estimate is difficult to obtain. Berndes et al. (2003) in reviewing 17 studies of future biomass availability found no complete integrated assessment and scenario studies. Various studies have arrived at differing figures for the potential contribution of biomass to future global energy supplies, ranging from below 100 EJ/yr to above 400 EJ/yr in 2050. Smeets et al. (2007) indicate that ultimate technical potential for energy cropping on current agricultural land, with projected technological progress in agriculture and livestock, could deliver over 800 EJ/yr without jeopardizing the world’s food supply. In Hoogwijk et al. (2005) and Hoogwijk (2004), the IMAGE 2.2 model was used to analyse biomass production potentials for different SRES scenarios. Biomass production on abandoned agricultural land is calculated at 129 EJ (A2) up to 411 EJ (A1) for 2050 and possibly increasing after that timeframe. 273 EJ (for A1) – 156 EJ (for A2) may be available below US$ 2/GJ production costs. A recent study (Sims et al., 2006) which used lower per-area yield assumptions and bio-energy crop areas projected by the IMAGE 2.2 model suggested more modest potentials (22 EJ/yr) by 2025.

Based on assessment of other studies, Hoogwijk et al. (2003), indicated that marginal and degraded lands (including a land surface of 1.7 Gha worldwide) could, be it with lower productivities and higher production costs, contribute another 60-150 EJ. Differences among studies are largely attributable to uncertainty in land availability, energy crop yields, and assumptions on changes in agricultural efficiency. Those with the largest projected potential assume that not only degraded/surplus land are used, but also land currently used for food production (including pasture land, as did Smeets et al., 2007).

Converting the potential biomass production into a mitigation potential is not straightforward. First, the mitigation potential is determined by the lowest supply and demand potentials, so without the full picture (see Chapter 11) no estimate can be made. Second, any potential from bioenergy use will be counted towards the potential of the sectors where bioenergy is used (mainly energy supply and transport). Third, the proportion of the agricultural biomass supply compared to that from the waste or forestry sector cannot be specified due to lack of information on cost curves.

Top-down integrated assessment models can give an estimate of the cost competitiveness of bioenergy mitigation options relative to one another and to other mitigation options in achieving specific climate goals. By taking into account the various bioenergy supplies and demands, these models can give estimates of the combined contribution of the agriculture, waste, and forestry sectors to bioenergy mitigation potential. For achieving long-term climate stabilization targets, the competitive cost-effective mitigation potential of biomass energy (primarily from agriculture) in 2030 is estimated to be 70 to 1260 MtCO2-eq/yr (0-13 EJ/yr) at up to 20 US$/t CO2-eq, and 560-2320 MtCO2-eq/yr (0-21 EJ/yr) at up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq (Rose et al., 2007, USCCSP, 2006). There are no estimates for the additional potential from top down models at carbon prices up to 100 US$/tCO2-eq, but the estimate for prices above 100 US$/tCO2-eq is 2720 MtCO2-eq/yr (20-45 EJ/yr). This is of the same order of magnitude as the estimate from a synthesis of supply and demand presented in Chapter 11, Section The mitigation potentials estimated by top-down models represent mitigation of 5-80%, and 20-90% of all other agricultural mitigation measures combined, at carbon prices of up to 20, and up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq, respectively.