Estimations of the global bioenergy potential
indicate that photosynthesis stores energy in biomass at a
rate roughly ten times the present rate of global energy use.
The potential contribution of bioenergy to the national energy
supply varies from country to country. Countries with large
forest resources, such as Canada, the Nordic countries, Brazil,
Russia and others have the most potential for a short term
increase of bioenergy production.
When assessing the biomass resource potential, it is important
to distinguish between the various kinds of assessments:
- Technical potential includes the total quantities of biomass
available from a certain area. Looking at woody biomass,
it is relatively easy to estimate its technical potential
considering that the ages and areas of the forest plantations
are generally known.
- Economic potential considers the possibility of some variation
occurring in the volumes of biomass becoming available for
energy as a result of changing world market prices for biomass,
but also for fossil fuels and electricity. The economic
potential varies with the cost energy sources and is thus
more difficult to estimate with any degree of accuracy.
- Socio-economic potential estimates the amount of biomass
that will be available when all social and environmental
factors, along with the economic factors, have been included
in the assessment. It is the most likely to occur in reality,
but also the most difficult to predict, since it depends
on several variables that are difficult to quantify.