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The climate change mitigation potential of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

Abstract

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) can act as a negative emission technology and is considered crucial in many climate change mitigation pathways that limit global warming to 1.5–2 °C; however, the negative emission potential of BECCS has not been rigorously assessed. Here we perform a global spatially explicit analysis of life-cycle GHG emissions for lignocellulosic crop-based BECCS. We show that negative emissions greatly depend on biomass cultivation location, treatment of original vegetation, the final energy carrier produced and the evaluation period considered. We find a global potential of 28 EJ per year for electricity with negative emissions, sequestering 2.5 GtCO2 per year when accounting emissions over 30 years, which increases to 220 EJ per year and 40 GtCO2 per year over 80 years. We show that BECCS sequestration projected in IPCC SR1.5 °C pathways can be approached biophysically; however, considering its potentially very large land requirements, we suggest substantially limited and earlier deployment.

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Fig. 1: Global emission–supply curve and emission factor map of bioelectricity with CCS.
Fig. 2: Global emission–supply curves of liquid biofuels with CCS.
Fig. 3: Global emission–supply curves of BECCS electricity with different initial biomass use scenarios over a 30-year evaluation period.
Fig. 4: Carbon sequestration potential of BECCS electricity in climate change mitigation pathways.
Fig. 5: Sensitivity of BECCS electricity emission–supply curves to parameterization.

Data availability

Data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information. All source data for figures and datasets generated during the current study are available online at https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-x73-tqeg. Source data for figures in the Supplementary Information are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

The code used in the analyses of the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank H. de Coninck for critically reviewing the manuscript and M. Čengić for his help with coding. S.V.H., Z.J.N.S. and M.A.J.H. were supported by ERC–CoG SIZE (no. 647224).

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S.V.H., V.D., D.P.v.V. and M.A.J.H. designed the study. J.C.D. and V.D. performed the LPJml and IMAGE runs. S.V.H. collected literature data. S.V.H. performed the EF, emission–supply curve and mitigation pathway analyses, with help from V.D., Z.J.N.S. and M.A.J.H. The manuscript was written by S.V.H., with revisions from all authors.

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Correspondence to S. V. Hanssen.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Page Kyle, Daniel Sanchez and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Hanssen, S.V., Daioglou, V., Steinmann, Z.J.N. et al. The climate change mitigation potential of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 1023–1029 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0885-y

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