Today is the first day of the World Future Energy summit, marking the start of the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for all. The theme of the summit is innovation and issues to be discussed by researchers, policy makers and investors will include technology as the enabler for clean energy, how to drive growth, finance and rural development, as well as the political and digital infrastructures needed to support progress.
Bioenergy from biomass is also an important part of the agenda. Headlining at the summit is the announcement from a leading NGO that biomass will upstage other renewable sources (wind and solar) in providing energy to the world’s poorest. This prediction was made by the award winning CEO of Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKBPS) who implement low energy technologies in Pakistan and India that focus on energy saving, including household level biogas plants to fuel cooking and water heating.
Biogas, formed by the breakdown of biological material to produce methane and hydrogen, is also widely used as a clean transportation fuel and production technology at a commercial level is moving fast. Work published in Biotechnology for Biofuels by Pakarinen et al. looks at the advantages of storing crops as silage to improve breakdown and increase methane yields. The production of biogas from algae is another attractive alternative, requiring low cost inputs of water and sunlight, that is receiving renewed research attention (Lakaniemi et al.). In 2012 and beyond, the freely accessible research published in Biotechnology for Biofuels, can only help to achieve the grand aim of sustainable energy for all.