Reconciling top-down and bottom-up modelling on future bioenergy deployment


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) assesses the role of bioenergy as a solution to meeting energy demand in a climate-constrained world. Based on integrated assessment models, the SRREN states that deployed bioenergy will contribute the greatest proportion of primary energy among renewable energies and result in greenhouse-gas emission reductions. The report also acknowledges insights from life-cycle assessments, which characterize biofuels as a potential source of significant greenhouse-gas emissions and environmental harm. The SRREN made considerable progress in bringing together contrasting views on indirect land-use change from inductive bottom-up studies, such as life-cycle analysis, and deductive top-down assessments. However, a reconciliation of these contrasting views is still missing. Tackling this challenge is a fundamental prerequisite for future bioenergy assessment.

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Figure 1: Precision and completeness of bioenergy evaluation.
Figure 2: Technical bioenergy potential and deployment scenarios for 2050.
Figure 3: Greenhouse-gas emissions of bioenergy deployment.
Figure 4: Towards a hierarchical modelling framework that is policy relevant.


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We thank R. Socolow, R. Williams, C. von Stechow and U. Fritsche for helpful discussions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support by the Michael Otto Stiftung and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funded project GLUES (Global Assessment of Land Use Dynamics, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Ecosystem Services).

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Correspondence to Felix Creutzig.

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Creutzig, F., Popp, A., Plevin, R. et al. Reconciling top-down and bottom-up modelling on future bioenergy deployment. Nature Clim Change 2, 320–327 (2012).

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