A fifth of global energy could be provided by biomass without damaging food production, according to a report.
The Technology and Policy Assessment function of the UK Energy Research Centre reviewed more than 90 studies from around the world to produce its findings.
Lead author Dr Raphael Slade said: “If we make the best use of agricultural residues, energy crops and waste materials then getting one fifth of current global energy supply from biomass is a reasonable ambition.”
The report found that more than a fifth was technically possible but required challenging assumptions about food production and changes in diets.
“The more bio-energy you want the harder it becomes to reconcile demand for food, energy and environmental protection,” said Slade.
Waste wood, paper, food and textiles were included in the report as sources of biomass, as well as sewage sludge and animal manures.
Energy secretary Chris Huhne has included biomass as one of the key elements of the UK’s “third industrial revolution”.