United Nations is playing key role in planning and development of bio-energy programmes at the global level. FAO’s bioenergy programme bases its operations on the following concepts: a) bioenergy can stimulate diversification of agricultural and forestry activities; for example, through establishment of energy plantations with trees and crops; b) biofuels can provide locally the necessary energy to improve agriculture and forestry productivity; and c) bioenergy can attract investments to rural areas where most of the biofuels are produced. However, several barriers must be properly addressed and removed for the full utilisation of bioenergy potential. One of the main concerns is the availability of land for food and biofuel production. This issue is particularly important in developing countries where food security deserves the highest priority. The population growth rate is highest in the developing countries. Table 2 Summarizes the population growth scenarios. Table 2 : Future Trends of Population Growth (in Billion People) 1990 2020 World 5.2 7.9 European Union 0.36 0.38 Developing countries 4 6.4 The fact that nearly 90 percent of the worlds population will reside in developing countries by 2050 probably implies that local solutions for energy needs will have to be found to cope up with the local energy needs on one hand and environment protection on the other hand. Accordingly energy demand on global basis is higher in the developing countries. The energy consumption growth is shown in Table 3. Table 3: Future Trends of Primary Energy Demand (in Billion TOE) 1990 2020 European Union 1.3 1.6 Developing Countries. 2.5 7.3 Bioenergy systems Biomass conversion into energy carriers (biofuels) consists of a network of several stages and operations regarding multidisciplinary aspects such as: The process of photosynthesis and biofuel production, biofuel supply sources (such as forests, industries, farming activities, etc.), trade and market issues and energy conversion devices. The combination of all these processes and operations is generically called “bioenergy system”. There can be land competition between food and biofuel production and a proper analysis of local conditions is essential for developing an effective energy system. There are many technical, political, economic, environmental and social implications that must be properly understood to have bioenergy systems integrated into agriculture and energy policies and strategies. In general, the bioenergy systems are very site--specific and complex. At micro level, supply sources of a simple bioenergy system can include a single farm and the main biofuel produced is just fuelwood for charcoal-making to be sold in urban markets. In these cases, a’ simplified charcoal making scheme includes, among others, the following main unit operations: growing the fuelwood, harvesting the wood; drying, and preparation of wood for carbonization; carbonizing the wood to charcoal, screening, storage and transport to warehouse and distribution to the market points. On the other hand, the layout of wood “energy systems at macro level (such as provincial and/or national level) can be generically represented by the woodfuel balance scheme. In practice, field studies of area-based biofuel flow show that bioenergy systems are even more complex where different supply sources for biofuel production and different biofuel types are converted into energy. COMPARISON OF BIOENERGY WITH OTHER RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEMS: Advantages Significant environmental benefits as far as pollution concerns High potentiality (large areas of crop¬land - marginal land - semiarid land) Sufficient competitiveness of biomass as energy resource in comparison with hydrocarbon Possibility to penetrate all energy market (heat power - transport - chemicals) Possibility of bioenergy systems on very small scale (few KW) - or very large scale (hundred of MW) Positive effects on employment in rural areas for the biomass resource production Disadvantages * Need of supplying expensive energy feedstock * Difficulty in the identification of the most promising systems * Optimization of bioenergy activity requires very deep knowledge of wide sectorial competence (~100 sectors) * Need to adopt horizontal and vertical integration of sub-systems to improve the economic basis of bioenergy complexes * Water, soil, climatic, environmental constraints limiting the biomass productivity and the choice of plants optimization of the yields for different climatic regions. RESOURCES OF THE PLANET Land On all continents the potential crop-land available for bioenergy is significant. In the European Union, the potential crop-land is estimated to be 40 million ha, in the USA around 70 million ha, in Africa 700 million ha (also assuming that the land is used twice for the production of food) The figure for Latin America is estimated to be still higher.. India has around 90 million ha of marginal land which can be used for producing bio-energy plantations. Water Water is vital for biomass product. Increased human activity requires more and more water. Its availability is shrinking. Going deep into the soils brings poor quality water. At many cumulative use of such water for expanding agriculture has resulted in secondary salinization processes rendering soils unfertile which were hitherto used for rain fed agriculture. In contrast to this the raising the biofuel plantations do not demand much water, can be grown in unfertile land and does not lead to increase in salinization process. Thus the bio-energy plantation helps in restoration of the wastelands (Kumar, 2008). Living Species There are around 2,50, 000 plants described on the earth but human food-industry activity is based only on a few hundreds types of crops. Therefore, there is wide scope to explore new biomass crops for energy. Proper selection of crops based on specific agro climatic zones and availability of water and nutrient status of soil becomes important for large scale biomass production on global basis. Biomass can cover entire spectrum of energy needs of developing countries, while simultaneously achieving critical economic, social and environmental objectives. Sustainably produced biomass energy resources and products can include, among others: (i) traditional woodfuels (fuelwood and charcoal); (ii) briquettes from agricultural and woody-biomass residues; (iii) biogas; (iv) bio-ethanol; and (v) methanol. (vi) biodiesel (vii)hydrocarbons. Additionally, a wide variety of biomass resources can today be used in power generation through dendro-thermal and gasification processes. All of these biomass-based energy resources and products can be produced in a decentralized basis, can generate large number of employment in the rural areas, and can significantly contribute to conserve local ecosystems and to establish sustainable carbon sinks. It has also been learned from past experience, that the success of getting substantial results will require on the one hand, the combined efforts of all involved, not only the communities, but the public and the private sector as well, and, on the other hand, continued efforts to facilitate the development of energy markets, so that biomass-based technologies can find their competitive edge along with other conventional or newer forms of renewable energy. In this context, the World Bank Group has elaborated a comprehensive energy sector policy platform which includes the development of the biomass energy sub-sector within an environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially equitable framework. The World Bank Group is now increasingly positioned to supports its client countries to: (i) formulate and implement an appropriate multi--sectorial policy framework which promotes a rational and efficient production, transfor¬mation and use of biomass energy resources and products by the community and the public and private sectors; (ii) establish natural resource management systems and schemes capable of sustainably producing traditional biomass fuels and modem and/or new biomass-based energy products, and capable of contributing towards the mitigation of desertification and climate change; (iii) promote an active and equitable participation of the rural community in the production and marketing of biomass energy resources and products; and, (iv) promote the participation of the private sector in the biomass energy sub-sector, with a special emphasis on the investment in modern and/or new biomass energy technologies and products. In addition to its regular Regional Energy Units (Africa, Asia, LAC, etc.) The World Bank Group has several specialized energy programs, such as the World Bank/UNPD “Energy Sector Management Assistance Program - ESMAP”, the “Africa Regional Program for the Traditional Energy Sector - RPTES” and the “Asia Alternative Energy Program - ASTAE”, which assist client countries on biomass energy issues through: The industrialized countries and private sector should actively join in the efforts of the international development community to transfer modern biomass energy and other renewable energy technologies to the developing countries. Doing so will not only provide for significant development opportunities and economic growth in the recipient countries, but will open new markets and investment opportunities for the industrialized countries and private sector companies that participate in the process. World bank is making efforts on promotion of biomass energy as a potential instrument for environmentally sustainable development. R&D NEEDS FOR BIOENERGY Status of Bioenergy Some technologies, such as combustion, are already competitive in local economic environments but others, such as gasification and pyrolysis could become so within 3 to 6 years. Bioenergy is particularly suitable for regional or local applications and especially in countries with few indigenous fossil energy sources. BIOENERGY AREAS There has been a continuous development of Bioenergy technologies over the last three decades with various degrees of acceleration during certain periods in time as a reflection of the variations in the price of oil. Climate change offers the opportunity for long lasting policies for a constant support of Bioenergy. For this to be achieved, the Bioenergy technologies have to demonstrate that they have reached the degree of maturity and reliability needed for the local but also global economy. Thus, in order Bioenergy to successfully penetrate the energy markets, it must reach the same degree of development with that of fossil fuels so as to provide the same quality of services to the consumers. All Bioenergy applications consists of four main technology related areas which will be examined individually in terms of the R&D needs necessary to intensify and accelerate the penetration of Bioenergy applications into the energy markets: (a) the resource production, supply, upgrading to a fuel and the storage of the fuel, (b) the feeding system and the conversion reactor, (c) the environmental protection measures, and, (d) the energy recovery for heat and/or electricity. THE RESOURCE The guaranteed supply of the fuel to a conversion facility is or primary importance and unless this can be contractually secured no project, irrespectively of its technology or other attractive elements, will be seriously considered by the bankers and other project stakeholders. The biomass and or waste recovered fuels form the basis of any Bioenergy application and often the physico-chemical characteristics of the fuel also define the type of technology to be used. The Bioenergy resource covers a very wide range of fuel types such as dedicated products (e.g. energy crops), residues (either agricultural such as straw or forestry such as thinnings), process waste (such as sawdust), waste recovered fuels (such as Refuse Derived Fuel) and unsorted municipal solid waste (MSW). In general, all operations such as collection, transport, size reduction, drying and storage for the residues, the process wastes and MSW have attained significant technical maturity and commercial solutions exist practically for most of these feedstocks. However, for all operations, the handling, and recovery has to be improved in order to increase the yield through the chain from resource to fuel. BIOMASS FOR ENERGY OR MATERIALS Carbon dioxide emission is projected to grow from 5.8 billion tonnes carbon equivalent in 1990 to 7.8 billion tonnes in 2010 and 9.8 billion tonnes by 2020. The Kyoto conference agreement last year is not far reaching but indicates the role clean energy sources will play in the future. Biomass is renewable, non pollutant and available world wide as agricultural residues, short rotation forests and crops . Thermochemical conversion using low temperature processes are among the suitable technologies to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly development. Biomass can play a dual role in greenhouse gas mitigation related to the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) i.e. as an energy source to substitute for fossil fuels and as a carbon store. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction is one of the most important environmental challenges for the next decades. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important greenhouse gas, representing approximately three-quarters of the total GHG emissions. Biomass strategies pose an important option for CO2 emission reduction since CO2 is fixed during the biomass growth stage. Biomass can subsequently be used as a renewable resource, with zero net CO2 emissions. This is the basis for all biomass strategies (i.e. groups of activities with similar characteristics, concerning agriculture and forestry and aiming for GHG emission mitigation). The following biomass strategies can be discerned: * Carbon storage above ground in new forests; * Carbon storage below ground in soils; * Carbon storage in wood materials and products; * Substitution of energy carriers with biomass; * Substitution of materials with biomass; * Energy recovery from process waste and post- consumer waste. Current commercial and non-commercial biomass use for energy is estimated at between 20 and 60 EJ/a representing about 6 to 17 % of the world primary energy. Most of the biomass is used in developing countries where it is likely to account for roughly one third of primary energy. As a comparison, the share of primary energy provided by biomass in industrialized countries is small and is estimated at about 3 % or less. Global land availability estimates for energy crop production vary widely between 350 and 950 million hectares ( Alexandratos , 1995). An energy potential of about 37.4 EJ/a is estimate based on country specific biomass yield and an average land availability The worldwide technical biomass energy potential is then estimated at about 104 EJ/a corresponding to approximately one third of the global 320 EJ/a primary energy consumption of oil, gas and coal ( BP-Amoco 1999). The bio-oil consortium of the UK received huge grants (1.16 million pounds) to enable the commercial production and testing of an integrated bio-oil and electricity generating plant. UK´s energy minister Peter Hain ascribed “ high priority to research and development of sustainable energy sources “. Commercial processing plants for the medium scale production of biodiesel from inter-esterification of triglycerides have been developed in France, Germany (CARMEN), Austria (ENERGIA Biodiesel Technology) USA (Ensyn Group Inc.) and in the EU (Eubia ). Liquid and gaseous transport fuels derived from a range of biomass sources are technically feasible. They include methanol, ethanol, dimethyl esters, pyrolytic oil, Fischer-Tropsch gasoline and distillate and biodiesel from (i) Jatropha , Pongamia pinnata, Salvadora persica, Madhuca longifolia and ( ii) hydrocarbon from Euphorbia species. Biomass energy is experiencing a surge in interest in many parts of the world due to a greater recognition of its current role and future potential contribution as modern fuel in the world energy supply, its availability, versatility and sustainable nature; a better understanding of its global and local environmental benefits, perceived potential role in climate stabilization, the existing and potential development and entrepreneurial opportunities. Technological advances and knowledge which have recently accumulated on many aspects of biomass energy, e.g. greater understanding of the possible conflict of food versus fuel etc. A recent World Bank report concluded that “Energy policies will need to be as concerned about the supply and use of biofuels as they are about modern fuels. (and) they must support ways to use bio-fuels more efficiently and in sustainable manner ( World Bank, 1996). Biomass resources are potentially the worlds largest and sustainable energy source a renewable resource comprising 220 billion oven dry tones (about 4500 EJ) of annual primary production. The annual bio-energy potential is about 2900 EJ though only 270 EJ could be considered available on a sustainable basis and at competitive prices. The pervasiveness of GHG emissions complicates the analysis: many GHG emission reduction strategies influence each other’s efficiency. For example emission reduction because of a switch to bioelectricity reduces the potential for emission reduction based on the increased efficiency of household equipment. The assessment of biomass strategies is further complicated by co-production and cascading: by-products from wood sawing and waste materials can be used for energy recovery. This illustrates why the assessment of biomass strategies is complicated, and why different studies result in different recommendations, depending on the scope of the study. This study focuses on Western Europe. Current European policies with regard to biomass are aiming for bioenergy, especially electricity production. Transportation fuel research activities have been reduced in the last decade. As of yet, biomaterials strategies have received little attention from a GHG emission point of view. Some reforestation activities represent a continuation of a trend that started decades ago. It is unclear whether the current European biomass policy trends are optimal, given the conflicting study results and rapid technological change. For this reason, an energy and materials’ systems engineering model has been developed in order to analyse the optimal use of biomass from agriculture and forestry for energy and/ or materials. The selection of optimal biomass strategies has been investigated in the framework of the BRED (Biomass for greenhouse gas emission Reduction) project. ENERGY CROPS AND WASTE RECOVERED FUELS The energy crops (with the exception of food related crops such as rapeseed) and the waste recovered fuels, however, need significant efforts in most operations before reliable systems with competitive economics can be developed. For the waste recovered fuels technologies have been developed to recover well calibrated fuels which can be used in energy plants, however, these technologies are now entering the demonstration stage and several plants are under construction or have recently been commissioned in countries such as Sweden, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. These efforts have to be continued at the demonstration level since waste recovered fuels are indigenous, have low or even negative cost and in well managed facilities high quality fuels can be produced. The main critical element for market penetration of waste recovered fuels is the level of concentration of pollutants such as halogens, sulphur, nitrogen and heavy metals which may differentiate their utilization between an incineration facility or an energy production facility.