Bioenergy is an umbrella term used for all forms of energy derived from biomass, regardless of origin be it of agricultural, woody materials or otherwise. Bioenergy can be based on a wide range of different fuels, from simple firewood to refined transportation fuels such as bioethanol.

As diverse as the raw materials and applications used for bioenergy is its sustainability scorecard. Properly implemented, bioenergy can have highly positive impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, waste utilization and energy security. At the same time, competition for raw materials and land pose sustainability challenges for bioenergy.

In 1978 The International Energy Agency set up IEA Bioenergy to improve cooperation and information exchange between countries that are engaging in bioenergy research, development and deployment. Twenty-four countries and the European Commission participate, as well as multiple stakeholders such as private corporations, state representatives, academia and research institutes.

This coordination allows practical collaboration like cost and task sharing but also wider benefits on policy level such as the pooling of technical resources, accelerating deployment of technologies and strengthening research and development capabilities.

IEA Bioenergy operates via several tasks that are planned in 3-year time frames, and are coordinated through a Task leader from one of the participating countries. Inter-tasks and special projects also supplement the projects work by bridging tasks and providing integration of knowledge.

SEI Headquarters Research Fellow Olle Olsson, representing Sweden, co-leads IEA Bioenergy Task 40: Deployment of biobased value chains. From the 27th of February to the 1st of March, IEA Bioenergy Task 40 along with three other tasks will kick off the work programme for the years 2019-2021. Stakeholders from several countries will meet to exchange ideas and expertise on the global energy landscape as well brainstorm on how bioenergy can best contribute to the implementation of the SDGs and the mitigation of climate change.