The Role of Biomass Supply Chains for Bioenergy in the Post-COVID-19 Economy

Governments are set to make major decisions that will affect huge amounts of investment and shape infrastructure and industries for decades to come and this report facilitates decision-making in respect of investments in biomass supply chains. In March 2020, a team from IEA Bioenergy Task 43 (Biomass supply) started research to investigate how biomass supply chains could contribute to the post-COVID19 recovery. The aim of research was to provide evidence–based advice, supported by expert opinion, that would aid policy framing related to biomass supply chains in a recovery programme and beyond. This exercise was conducted to identify the best forward-looking policy actions and strategies by which to advance societal goals.

Full report available here:

The report is structured as follows:

  1. Position of biomass supply chains in economies => effects of the pandemic on biomass supply chains
  2. SWOT analysis on biomass supply chains => how biomass supply chains can contribute from demand and supply chains to post-COVID19 recovery
  3. Foresight on how biomass supply chains for bioenergy (in a broader bioeconomy) can contribute to the post-COVID19 recovery

Expert consensus favoured investments in technology and infrastructure to support biomass supply chains. For instance, investment in small scale, decentralised bioenergy facilities, coupled with substitution of fossil fuel use, fit for a local supply chain were viewed as strongly contributing to economic growth under all future scenarios by 2030.

The results of the foresight exercise indicate where specific investments would stimulate economic growth and create cleaner and more resilient energy systems even under a more drawn-out pandemic.

A finding of the SWOT analysis was that resilience in the biomass supply chains could accelerate the transition to a sustainable and carbon neutral society, hopefully without the challenges of the pandemic. Investments to improve biomass supply from forestry and agriculture, as well as those investments that specifically support short supply chains (instead of general measures in supporting all biomass investments, regardless on the supply chain and end-use), indicate positive economic growth outcomes in all scenarios and timeframes, with different intensity. Investing in ways to include residual biomass from primary production in the economy could offset the loss of income in rural areas, given the adaptation measures needed due to climate change.

It is clear that the existing policy refurbishment towards supplying biomass to the economy is vital, not only for post-COVID-19 recovery but also to accelerate sustainable renewable carbon supply to the economy in the era of evident climate change. The information collected in this study can act as a blueprint to inform investments through a mix of economic and social futures.

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