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United Nations Framework Classification for Resources now applicable for bioenergy

Published: 28 September 2017

Bioenergy is a renewable energy made from biological source materials, which can include solid biomass, sewage biomass, forest residues, algae and agricultural wastes. Although global bioenergy production is on the rise, a global system for the management of bioenergy resources has not been available to date. This has made the planning of the production and use of bioenergy at a country or company level challenging, particularly in relation to the integration of bioenergy in long-term energy plans and scenarios.

The adoption of Specifications for the Application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to Bioenergy Resources will facilitate their management and support their increased use as countries progress towards more sustainable energy production and consumption.

UNFC is a universally acceptable and internationally applicable scheme for the classification and reporting of energy and mineral resources, and already applies to energy and mineral production worldwide, including coal, gas, oil and uranium. However, work has progressed significantly in recent years to broaden its application to encompass renewable and geothermal energy. The application of UNFC to bioenergy is an important stepping-stone to further advance its use for renewable energy. Work is currently underway to advance UNFC application for hydro, solar and wind energy.

James Primrose from BP Alternative Energy International Ltd, Chair of the Sub-group of the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Classification (EGRC) that developed the specifications, welcomed the development, stating “we now have the first ever system for managing the complexities inherent in bioenergy resources. The UNFC Bioenergy Specifications will be a boon to the many countries that seek to integrate renewable sources such as bioenergy in their energy mix”.

Scott Foster, Director of UNECE’s Sustainable Energy Division, explained, “a universal system to evaluate renewable and non-renewable energy resources will provide a foundation for investors, regulators, governments and consumers to review current and future energy sustainability scenarios. 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.”

Five case studies were prepared to facilitate understanding of the applicability of the UNFC to Bioenergy Resources. These case studies cover projects on sugarcane ethanol, corn ethanol, renewable diesel, miscanthus cellulosic ethanol and biopower from wood. They help to put into perspective the complexities in the management of bioenergy and demonstrate how UNFC can simplify the process.

The Specifications for the Application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to Bioenergy Resources were adopted by the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy on 28 September 2017.

For further information, please contact Hari Tulsidas at reserves.energy [at] unece.org and/or visit http://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html

Note to editors

Most waste sources are a burden on the environment and, if not disposed of carefully, can lead to waste dumps producing methane and other harmful greenhouse gases, also bringing risks of explosions. However, with proper planning and management, biomass can offer a source of clean energy, contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 on clean and affordable energy.

Global bioenergy production is on the rise and is used in particular as bio-heat production for buildings and industrial uses, as well as for the manufacture of ethanol. There has been significant progress in the commercialization and development of advanced biofuels in recent years, with expansion in the capacity and production of fuels by both thermal and biological routes.

Biofuels are a valuable substitute to non-renewable hydrocarbons in the transport sector. Current vehicle and aircraft fleets in many countries use ethanol and biodiesel without the need for any costly replacements. Biomass-based renewable hydrocarbon fuels have a chemical composition that is almost identical to petroleum-based fuels, which means they are compatible in not only vehicle engines, but also in pumps and other machinery.


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