Biofuels1 can contribute significantly to reaching the political goals of increasing the share of renewable energy and reducing CO2 emissions from anthropogenic sources. A bioenergy system is complex; it includes many phases, starting from the production/preparation of raw materials (harvesting, grinding, etc.), through the transportation, and the conversion of raw materials into fuel, transportation of fuel, its distribution to the consumers, to its final utilisation. Such a complex system needs clarity at all levels.
National and international energy statistics seldom include the same level of detailed information on biofuel and woodfuel consumption as for other conventional energy sources and forest products. Moreover, existing information on woodfuel in most forestry data banks, at both national and international levels, is rather limited and very aggregated. It therefore is not suited to the comprehensive analysis of how much woodfuel is being used, where and by whom. Moreover, the scarce information available is collected, compiled and presented based on different terminologies, and without clear definitions. The units and conversion factors used make comparison, aggregation and exchange extremely difficult and time consuming. In addition, most existing information on biofuels is focused on biomass consumption, without paying due attention to other related aspects such as production and supply sources.
Thus, there has been a growing awareness and interest in improved and more detailed bioenergy data in order to gain a proper understanding of bioenergy systems and to plan the sustainable production and utilization of biomass by households as well as commercial and industrial uses. Up to now, FAO data have been considered a reference for many institutions, but there is an increasing necessity to improve the method by which FAO collects, organizes and presents wood energy data.
In response to the need to refine and restructure the way in which bioenergy data are presented in FAO statistics, and taking into account other bioenergy database methodologies, this document presents a new framework for bioenergy classification and accounting. The basic elements of such an approach include the following:
• creation of a woodfuel category which encompasses all kinds of energy material from wood;
• inclusion of new biofuel types, including agrofuels and municipal by-products;
• improved disaggregation on both the supply and demand sides;’
• support for new trading activities on inter-regional and international levels;
• building links to international standardisation activities (i.e. CEN – European Standardisation Committee);
• encouraging the development of consistent bioenergy balances and organization of a database as a basis for doing assessments and policy analysis at the international and regional levels (especially assessment on the role of bioenergy use in deforestation and land use changes).
The Unified Bioenergy Terminology (UBET) has been prepared jointly and discussed with many institutions and at the FAO Expert meeting “A Unified Wood Energy Terminology”, held in Rome, Italy on 3-4 October 2001. The objective was to assess properly the amount of energy produced from biofuels and facilitate the exchange of bioenergy databases among national and international organizations.
This paper aims at unifying and organizing currently used terminology and definition of woodfuels and other biofuels used in forest and energy statistics, bioenergy balances and commercial trading operations.
Certainly this new terminology and set of definitions are not a panacea for solving the many problems associated with bioenergy statistics and trade aspects. UBET is however intended as a first and essential step towards their improvement. The terminology and definitions should enable the various institutions and organizations to exchange information more easily and to address the different problems of bioenergy utilization more clearly. The ultimate objective of the process is to assist in the identification and development of policy instruments, projects and activities, and investments, in order to assist in encouraging increased private sector interests in wood energy.
1 All terms in italics are defined in chapter 7