Posted in | News | Climate Change

Availability of Renewable Energy Sources At Risk

According to a new study, climate change is risking the availability of biomass fuels and technologies, which are crucial substitutes for fossil fuels.

Availability of Renewable Energy Sources At Risk
Biomass energy is made from plants, wood, and waste. Image Credit: University of York.

The research has discovered that as temperatures increase, the chance to make the most use of biomass from wood, plants, and waste as a renewable energy source and a substitute for petrochemicals is slowly coming to an end.

In a study at the universities of York and Fudan in China, scientists explored the sustainability of biomass utilization. Details of the study have been reported in the journal Nature.

The scientists learned that if serious action is not taken to decrease fossil fuels in support of bioenergy and other renewables, climate change will reduce crop yields, curtailing the accessibility of biomass feedstocks.

The scientists state that decreasing food production is also likely to encourage cropland expansion, expanding greenhouse gas discharges from land use change and further hastening the rate of climate change.


Biomass fuels and feedstocks offer a renewable source of energy and a viable alternative to petrochemicals, but the results of our study act as a stark warning about how climate change will put their availability at risk if we continue to allow global temperatures to rise.

James Clark, Study Co-Author and Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of York

“There is a tipping point where climate change will severely impede our ability to mitigate against its worst effects. Biomass with carbon capture and storage including the manufacture of bio-based chemicals must be used now if we are to maximise its advantage,” James Clark added.

In a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and several evaluations of climate mitigation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) has been pinpointed as a significant element of the strategy for reaching goals stipulated in the Paris Agreement.


The scientists used international data to model the reactions of crop yields to growing average temperatures, nitrogen fertilization intensity, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and precipitation. They learned that if a switch to BECCS is tardy to the second half of this century, biomass production would be essentially reduced by climate change, resulting in a failure to accomplish the 2 °C goal and risking global food security.

For example, when BECCS is delayed from 2040 to 2060, the scientists found that reduced yields of agricultural residue for biomass technologies would reduce the ability of BECCS. This would trigger global warming to increase from 1.7 to 3.7 °C by 2200, with a drop in worldwide average daily crop calories per capita from 2.1 million calories to 1.5 million calories.

The scientists explain that in this situation, the scale of the food trade would have to grow by 80% from 2019 levels to avoid extreme food scarcities in many regions of the developing world worst impacted by climate change.


If negative-carbon mitigation technologies relying on biomass could be widely deployed in the short term, there is still hope that we can alleviate global warming and a global food crisis.

James Clark, Study Co-Author and Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of York

This study was conducted by an international group of researchers in China, the UK, and Spain.

Journal Reference:

Xu, S., et al. (2022) Delayed use of bioenergy crops might threaten climate and food security. Nature.


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.