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UNFC bioenergy specifications open for public comment

Published: 29 May 2017

Specifications for the application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to bioenergy were released on 24 May for public comment until 23 July 2017.

Growing awareness and interest in renewable energy resources, including bioenergy, has highlighted a need to normalize the way in which renewable energy potential is reported. A number of companies entering the field of renewable energy have voiced a need for a common platform in which to assess and compare the potential of their renewable and non-renewable energy portfolios.

A shared framework to evaluate renewable and non-renewable energy resources would also provide a foundation for investors, regulators, governments and consumers to review current and future energy sustainability scenarios at the project, company, country, region or global level. It is hoped that the inclusion of bioenergy within UNFC will facilitate increased recognition of the role that bioenergy specifically, and renewable energy in general, can and must play as part of the larger energy sector.

Global bioenergy production has been increasing, especially as bio-heat production for buildings and industrial uses and for the production of ethanol. Recently, significant progress has been witnessed in the commercialization and development of advanced biofuels, with expansion in the capacity and production of fuels by both thermal and biological routes. An IRENA study on bioenergy suggests that biomass has a promising future with potential in all sectors. Bioenergy could be a significant contributor to the future renewable energy mix.

The bioenergy specifications were prepared by a dedicated Sub-group of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification led by James Primrose, BP Alternative Energy International Ltd. The Sub-group members are Doug Berven (POET), Benoit Charpentier (Total), Raffaella Cristanetti (DuPont), Richard Hamilton (formerly with Ceres), James Leitheiser (formerly with EcoPlanet Bamboo), Mike McCurdy (Leidos Engineering), and Jean-Alain Taupy (formerly with Total).

Through this public comment, the views of all stakeholders are being sought to ensure the development of robust specifications that could be used by governments, regulators, industry and financiers alike.

Five application examples have also been developed to facilitate a better understanding of the draft bioenergy specifications and how they can and should be used. These case studies cover projects on sugarcane ethanol, corn ethanol, renewable diesel, miscanthus cellulosic ethanol and biopower from wood.

“The classification and management of bioenergy resources is neither simple nor obvious,” said James Primrose, Chair of the Bioenergy Sub-group. “The draft UNFC bioenergy specifications address several critical challenges arising from various aspects of the diversity of the bioenergy sector and should be useful for all stakeholders”.

UNFC has been developed by EGRC under the auspices of UNECE and applies to all extractive activities worldwide, including coal, gas, oil and uranium. Work has progressed significantly to broaden its application to encompass renewables. Generic specifications for application to renewables and specifications for geothermal energy resources were endorsed by the Committee on Sustainable Energy in September 2016. This work on bioenergy is an important stepping stone to further advance the application of UNFC to renewable energy. Similar work is currently underway for hydro, solar and wind energy.

The draft specifications are available for public comment on the UNECE website at: http://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html.

For further information, please contact: Hari Tulsidas, UNECE Sustainable Energy Division at: reserves.energy@unece.org

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