Agroecology is a holistic and integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture and food systems. It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment while also addressing the need for socially equitable food systems within which people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced.
Baseload power is the minimum demand on an electrical grid over a span of time. This demand can be met by power plants, dispatchable generation, or by smaller intermittent energy sources, depending on costs, availability, and reliability. The remainder of demand (time-variable) is met by dispatchable generation (load following power plants, peaking power plants, or energy storage).
Biodiversity loss includes not only the worldwide extinction of different species, but also the local reduction or loss of species abundance in a certain habitat.
The bioeconomy covers the industrial and economic sectors that produce or process biomass feedstocks or use biological resources for food, materials or energy, plus their associated services.
Bioenergy is energy derived from any form of biomass or its metabolic by-products. Bioenergy comprises the heat, electricity, cooling, and transport fuels produced from biomass.
A biofuel is a solid, liquid, or gaseous energy carrier, based on biomass, that can provide heat, electricity, or transport services.
Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals.
Biomass sources for energy include:
- Wood and wood harvesting and processing residues and wastes—firewood, wood pellets, and wood chips, lumber and furniture mill sawdust and waste, and black liquor from pulp and paper mills
- Agricultural crops, residues and waste materials—corn, soybeans, sugar cane, switchgrass, woody plants, and algae, and crop and food processing residues—mostly to produce biofuels
- Biogenic materials in municipal solid waste—paper, cotton, and wool products, and food, yard, and wood wastes
- Animal manure and human sewage for producing biogas/renewable natural gas
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
BECCS is the process of capturing and storing CO2 from processes that use biomass feedstocks to produce heat, electricity, or biofuels (e.g., in biomass combustion, gasification, biogas plants, ethanol plants, pulp mills for paper production; lime kilns for cement production; and biorefineries). Biomass absorbs CO2 as it grows, releasing it during processing or burning. The released CO2 is captured and injected into storage such as deep geological formations, thus removing it from the natural carbon cycle.
Biorefining is the processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products (food, feed, materials, chemicals) and energy (fuels, power, heat), using a wide variety of conversion technologies in an integrated manner.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
CCS is a process in which a relatively pure stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial and energy- related sources is separated (captured), conditioned, compressed, and transported to a storage location for long-term isolation from the atmosphere. Sometimes referred to as carbon dioxide capture and storage, or carbon dioxide removal (CDR).
Carbon capture and utilization (CCU)
CCU is a process in which CO2 is captured and then used to produce a new product. If the CO2 is stored in a product for a climate-relevant time horizon, this is referred to as carbon dioxide capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS). Only then, and only combined with CO2 recently removed from the atmosphere, can CCUS lead to carbon dioxide removal. CCU is sometimes referred to as carbon dioxide capture and use.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
CFossil fuel use is the primary source of CO2, but the gas can also be emitted from direct human- induced impacts on forestry and other land use, such as deforestation, land clearing for agriculture, and degradation of soils. Likewise, land use can also remove CO2 from the atmosphere through reforestation, improvement of soils, and other activities. CO2 makes up the majority of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and is therefore the primary driver of global climate change.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR)
CDR covers anthropogenic activities that remove CO2 from the atmosphere before durably storing it in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs, or in products. It includes existing and potential anthropogenic enhancement of biological or geochemical sinks and direct air capture and storage, but excludes natural CO2 uptake not directly caused by human activities.
Carbon intensity is the amount of emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released per unit of another variable such as gross domestic product (GDP), output energy use, or transport.
Cascadic use/ Cascadic chain
Cascadic use or a cascadic chain refers to the reuse, at least once, of biomass materials that have already been processed into a bio-based final product for energy purposes or use as a material.
A circular bioeconomy is a new economic model that emphasises the use and reuse of renewable natural capital; it focuses on minimising waste, increasing circular material use, and replacing the wide range of non-renewable, fossil-based products currently in use with renewable bio-based products.
A circular economy is a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible to extend the life cycle of products. This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take–make–consume–throw away pattern.
Contemporary climate change refers to both global warming and its impacts on Earth’s climate and weather patterns.
CO2 equivalent (CO2eq) emissions
A CO2 equivalent is a metric measure used to compare emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global-warming potential, by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential.
Commoditisation is the creation of an interchangeable and standardized or certified good which is traded on a transparent and efficient physical market allowing for equilibrating price dynamics.
Decentralisation is a process whereby activities are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Concepts of decentralisation are applied to political science, law, public administration, economics, and technology.
Eutrophication is a process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.
Feedstocks are raw materials before processing/conversion.
Geographic information system (GIS)
A GIS is a type of database containing geographic data (that is, descriptions of phenomena for which location is relevant), combined with software tools for managing, analysing, and visualising those data.
Greenhouse gas (GHG)
Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of terrestrial radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere itself and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, there are a number of entirely human-made GHGs in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine- and bromine-containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Besides CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the GHGs sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
GHG emission intensity
GHG emission intensity is the emission rate of a given pollutant relative to the intensity of a specific activity, or an industrial production process; for example, grams of carbon dioxide released per megajoule of energy produced.
Landscape management, from a perspective of sustainable development, comprises actions to ensure the regular upkeep of a landscape, so as to guide and harmonise changes brought about by social, economic, and environmental processes.
Life-cycle assessment (LCA)
Life-cycle assessment is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of a commercial product, process, or service. For instance, for a manufactured product, environmental impacts are assessed from raw material extraction and processing, through manufacturing, distribution and use, to the recycling or final disposal of the materials.
Low carbon intensity fuel
A low carbon intensity fuel is an energy carrier with a low content of fossil-based carbon or energy from a lifecycle analysis perspective.
Mixed waste is any combination of waste types with different properties. Commercial and municipal wastes are typically mixtures of plastics, metals, glass, and biodegradable waste, including paper and textiles.
Modern bioenergy refers to biomass use alongside modern heating technologies, power generation and transport fuels. It excludes traditional uses of biomass in simple pit fires and inefficient heating devices.
SOURCE: IRENA, IEA
Negative emissions technologies (NET)
Negative emissions technologies remove GHG gases from Earth’s atmosphere and store them on a permanent or long-term basis. Most NET are CDR, as CO2 is the major GHG gas. NETs include bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), reforestation, forest management, wood use, soil management (e.g. with biochar) and direct air capture.
Post-consumer wood is woody material or finished product that has served its intended use and has been discarded for disposal or recovery, having completed its life as a consumer item.
Residues are divided into four subcategories: agricultural, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, and processing residues. Residues can be used for further processing, for energy recovery (via combustion, gasification, pyrolysis) or disposed of.
Scaling effect (economy of scale)
Economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to increasing their scale of operation.
Sustainability has been defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (WCED, 1987). There are three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social, and environmental.
Sustainable agriculture is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices aiming at environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. The overall goal is to meet society’s present food and textile needs, without compromising their availability for future generations.
Scenarios/Pathways/Strategies on how to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Sustainable modern bioenergy systems are those that meet the following criteria:
- Technical merit, including technological soundness and accessibility of technology;
- Financial and economic merit, including cost-effectiveness, sound cost–benefit ratios, and coherence with local and national development priorities; and
- Ecological soundness, bearing in mind that traditional biomass use is not sustainable; that modern bioenergy can be sustainable; and that sustainable bioenergy is always modern bioenergy.
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987) and balances social, economic and environmental concerns.
Sustainable forest management
Sustainable forest management is defined as: “The stewardship and use of forest lands in a way and at a rate that maintains their productivity, biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil now and in the future relevant ecological, economic and social functions at local, national and global levels and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.”
Technology readiness levels (TRL)
TRLs are a method of estimating the maturity of technologies. The following definition was used by the European Commission for the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015:
TRL 1 – basic principles observed
TRL 2 – technology concept formulated
TRL 3 – experimental proof of concept
TRL 4 – technology validated in lab
TRL 5 – technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
TRL 6 – technology demonstrated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
TRL 7 – system prototype demonstration in operational environment
TRL 8 – system complete and qualified
TRL 9 – actual system proven in operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies; or in space)
Traditional bioenergy/ traditional use of biomass
Traditional bioenergy/use of biomass refers to the burning of woody biomass or charcoal or agricultural residues in simple fire pit stoves and other inefficient heating devices, and is still a major element in many developing and emerging economies.
Transport biofuel is produced from biomass and burned in vehicle engines to provide transport services; it may be liquid or gaseous.
Variable renewable energy (VRE) sources
Variable renewable energy sources are ones that that are not dispatchable due to their fluctuating nature, such as wind and solar power; this is in contrast to controllable renewable energy sources, such as dammed hydroelectricity or bioenergy, or relatively constant sources, such as geothermal energy.
Waste is any substance which is discarded after use, or is worthless, defective, and of no use. Examples include municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, radioactive waste. Depending on their origin, wastes are used for energy recovery (via incineration) or disposed of.