IRENA and FAO’s Collaboration Drives Better Decision-making for Sustainable Bioenergy Development

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are advancing the development of sustainable bioenergy by joining forces in showcasing the mapping of geospatial layers of data on agro-ecological zoning. Within the framework of collaboration under the memorandum of understanding signed in 2021, the two organisations have made available the Global Agro-Ecological Zoning version 4 (GAEZ v4) on IRENA’s Global Atlas for Renewable Energy platform.

FAO’s GAEZ v4?is the most ambitious global assessment to date of natural resources, which serves to find suitable agricultural land utilisation options. It comprises a large volume of spatial data of natural resources indicators and results of agro-ecological crop analysis. The data is now available on IRENA’s Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, an online platform intended to help policymakers and investors to access maps locating renewable energy resources across the world.

As the largest ever initiative to help countries understand their renewable energy potential, the Global Atlas platform now hosts GAEZ v4 layers of spatial data representing a crop suitability index for 26 different types of crops. The addition of GAEZ v4 to the Global Atlas helps users make informed decisions on potential bioenergy production and determine a specific bioenergy pathway through the IRENA’s Bioenergy Simulator.

“The addition of GAEZ v4 to the Global Atlas will help users make informed decisions on potential bioenergy production and determine a specific bioenergy pathway through the IRENA Bioenergy Simulator,” Dr. Imen Gherboudj, the IRENA’s officer in charge of the Global Atlas, said.

The Bioenergy Simulator is one of the simulators developed on IRENA’s Global Atlas platform, alongside the SolarCity Simulator. As a platform sharing over 2000 renewable energy maps covering solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy, the Global Atlas is closing the information gap and helping countries evaluate their potential for renewable energy deployment.

The fourth version of GAEZ, released in June 2021 by FAO in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), represents the agronomic backbone for various applications including the quantification of potential land productivity, providing information about the current and future agricultural production, irrigation demand and sustainable bioenergy development options. It provides critical information by crop type such as yield gap analysis in the context of climate change, and preliminary assessment of the bioenergy potential within a selected area in the context of energy transition planning.

“GAEZ is a successful example of practical science and research in support of sustainable development, as well as for sustainable energy. GAEZ v4 represents decades of research and innovation, providing better information and integrating socio-economic data on incomes, livelihood, nutrition, trade and markets,” said Dr. Matieu Henry, FAO’s Technical Officer in charge of GAEZ.

GAEZ v4 is also accessible through the GAEZ v4 Data Portal, an interactive online tool enabling data visualisation. In addition, the Data Portal provides free access to data, information, as well as the GAEZ v4 methodology, supporting documentation, crops summary statistics tables, and detailed scientific metadata and document.

Use the GAEZ v4 assessment for free on IRENA Bioenergy Simulator.