Bio-energy in the UK – an overview of opportunities


The report ‘Delivering greenhouse gas emission savings through UK bio-energy values’ gives recommendations on how the UK power sector can implement bio-energy projects for grid reliability and reduced greenhouse emissions.

The study asserts that bio-energy production in the UK is still immature due to the country’s political and scientific uncertainties around land use change and the sustainability of using biomass for energy.

Firstly, the report states that bio-energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) will positively impact on the UK’s transition to smart energy and reduced carbon emissions, since most of the value chains when using certain UK-grown bio-energy crops would deliver substantial negative emissions.

According to ETI, bio-energy offers flexibility to a future UK energy system. The report predicts electricity from bio-energy can meet around 10% of future energy demand and deliver net negative CO2 emissions of C-55 million tonnes per year in the 2050s.

And as such, planting 30,000 hectares a year of 2G bio-energy crops over the next decade would help UK on the trajectory for scaling up domestic biomass production out to the 2050s.

The report also states that sustainability, security of supply and public acceptability can be increased if the UK doesn’t rely entirely on biomass imports but instead increase local production and utilization of a mixture of home grown and imported feedstock.

However, the report findings stipulate that if bio-energy is deployed without CCS, greenhouse gas (CHG) emission savings are still achievable given the right choice of crop type, location and end use in the energy system.

ETI reiterates implementation of these recommendations over the next 5-10 years protects UK’s option to pursue the lowest cost route to delivering its climate change commitments by 2050.

Implementation of the recommendations would also provide UK with time to develop a framework to optimise the efficiency, economic and environmental performance of the country’s agricultural sector as a whole.