Bioenergy is currently a major renewable energy source in Europe but faces an unclear future because of conflicting modelling results and the lack of long-term policy. This paper identifies three challenges and potential opportunities by analysing bioenergy's historical national deployment, current policy support, and possible future roles in Europe. The first challenge is on the supply side. Calculating the supply-consumption dynamics and import dependency of EU bioenergy, we find that the security of bioenergy supply is challenging for liquid biofuels and those countries with the highest per-capita bioenergy consumption in Europe. Second, the definition of “sustainable bioenergy” in modelling studies is sometimes inconsistent with how EU policies label it. Third, on the demand side, there are unique but competing uses for bioenergy without a clear long-term strategy in Europe. We conclude with three opportunities to tackle these challenges for future research. First, utilising the untapped bioenergy potential with low environmental impacts could improve supply security. A clear and harmonised definition of “sustainable bioenergy” could better convey modelling results to policymaking. Finally, understanding where best to use limited sustainable bioenergy supply through sector-coupled energy system models can provide direction for a clearer EU bioenergy strategy towards 2050.
- Energy policy