The Energy Technologies Institute is seeking partners for a new bioenergy project which aims to improve understanding of the future of biomass logistics in the UK.
The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies, such as BP and Shell, and the UK Government. Its role is to act as a conduit between academia, industry and the government to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. It brings together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits.
ETI’s whole energy system analysis shows that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in a future long term low carbon UK energy system. Delivering the greatest value from bioenergy depends on the UK’s ability to source and distribute sufficient biomass from sustainable sources, either domestic or imported.
By developing infrastructure pathways for different bioenergy scenarios out to 2050, the project aims to identify key decision points and the actions that would need to be taken to support the sector’s development out to 2050. In particular the project is seeking to identify those ‘scenario-resilient’ actions without which the infrastructure required would not keep pace with demand for bioenergy.
These infrastructure pathways will also take into consideration how the biomass logistics infrastructure has developed to date and will identify lessons that can be learned from the development of other relevant sectors such as oil, coal and other commodities.
According to Hannah Evans, ETI Bioenergy Strategy Analyst, “the bioenergy sector has seen significant growth in recent years, leading to increases in the quantity of both imported and domestically produced feedstock. ETI’s analysis shows that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in cost-effectively meeting the UK’s 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) targets. While supply has been able to keep up with demand to date, as the bioenergy sector continues to grow further investment will need to be made to ensure sufficient quantities of biomass can be imported, stored, transported, processed and distributed to end users. In order to ensure the commercial viability of the biomass sector and to minimise the cost to the consumer, it is important that the infrastructure for biomass logistics is developed and used efficiently, learning lessons from other sectors where appropriate”.
While domestic sources offer the greatest energy security and sustainability benefits in the longer-term, the UK currently doesn’t have enough of its own biomass feedstock today to supply a commercially-viable large-scale bioenergy sector. Therefore, the most pragmatic approach is to develop the sector based on near-term increases in biomass imports derived from sustainable sources, such that the key actors in the supply chain can ‘learn by doing’ in terms of logistics, handling, designing and operating bioenergy conversion technologies. In parallel, support will also be needed to build up a strong and commercially-viable biomass feedstock supply chain in the UK to enable domestic biomass supplies to continue to play a significant role.