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Assessing the energy production and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions mitigation potential of biomass resources for Alberta

Weldemichael, Yemane, Assefa, Getachew
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.112 pp. 4257-4264
biomass, electric energy consumption, energy, feedstocks, forests, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, issues and policy, planning, sustainable development, Alberta
The use of biomass for energy production fosters sustainable development by saving fossil-based energy and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Alberta's wealth of biomass resources is estimated at 458 PJ potential. However, biomass-based energy development has been slow, and its contribution for provincial energy supply has so far been low. Recognizing the role of biomass for sustainability, the use of potentially available resources should be supported by provincial policy makers. The energy substitution and emission mitigation potential by biomass for Alberta is not fully understood and accounted. In this paper, energy and emission analysis approach was applied to assess the biomass resources potential; and analyse the GHG mitigation and energy substitution potential of biomass in the context of Alberta's final energy demand on a near term planning range, i.e. 15 years. The results demonstrate that utilization of agricultural and forest biomass resources for energy production can avoid 11–15% of GHG emissions and also substitute 14–17% of final energy demand by 2030. In addition, biomass has the potential to substitute 29% of total electricity consumption or 28% of Alberta total internal load. Agriculture is a major source for biomass feedstock supply in Alberta. Policy makers should give due recognition to the potential of biomass-derived energy in developing energy strategies. Further quantification of the economic removal of biomass feedstocks for energy production is needed to facilitate biomass integration to the provincial energy system.