Bioenergy - GCAM

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Model Documentation - GCAM

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Model information
Model link
Institution Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute (PNNL, JGCRI), USA,
Solution concept General equilibrium (closed economy)GCAM solves all energy, water, and land markets simultaneously
Solution method Recursive dynamic solution method
Anticipation GCAM is a dynamic recursive model, meaning that decision-makers do not know the future when making a decision today. After it solves each period, the model then uses the resulting state of the world, including the consequences of decisions made in that period - such as resource depletion, capital stock retirements and installations, and changes to the landscape - and then moves to the next time step and performs the same exercise. For long-lived investments, decision-makers may account for future profit streams, but those estimates would be based on current prices. For some parts of the model, economic agents use prior experience to form expectations based on multi-period experiences.


While most of the effort in modeling biomass supply is in the agriculture and land use component, there is a renewable resource represented in the energy system, that generally refers to municipal and industrial wastes that can be used for energy purposes. The supply curves use the same functional form as printed in the wind section, and the specific quantities are documented in Gregg and Smith (2010).[1] Unlike other resources, the waste biomass supply curve is assumed to grow with GDP, as prescribed by the exogenous supply elasticity of GDP, or “gdpSupplyElast”. See GCAM's biomass and biomass liquids sections for more details.

Traditional biomass

Traditional biomass in GCAM is defined as the IEA’s “primary solid biomass” product consumed by the residential sector, in selected regions where it is considered to be an important part of the energy system. The largest consumers of traditional biomass in 2010 were China, India, and Western Africa. The specific energy goods involved include firewood, agricultural residues, animal dung, and others; no effort is made to disaggregate the category into these constituent parts, or to link the production volumes with the agriculture and land use module. See GCAM's traditional biomass section.

  1. Gregg, J.S., and Smith, S.J. Global and regional potential for bioenergy from agricultural and forestry residue biomass. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 15(3), pp 241-262.