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ETI says bioenergy has potential to be low carbon game changer for UK’s future energy system

Published 02 October 2017

Bioenergy is one of the most scalable, cost-effective and flexible sources of renewable energy, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) who have released more than 100 documents including data sets and project reports from its Bioenergy programme.

Its research, focussed on accelerating the use of bioenergy in the UK, shows that bioenergy has the potential to help secure UK energy supplies, mitigate climate change, and create significant green growth opportunities without constricting food production.

Bioenergy has the capability to meet around 10 per cent of future UK energy needs and deliver net negative CO2 emissions of around 55 million tonnes per year in the 2050s, if used in combination with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This could offset the need for more expensive interventions in sectors like aviation, transport and shipping.

ETI research suggests that to increase the supply of UK-grown biomass, there is a need to make more productive use of arable land in the UK. By planting around 1.4 Mha (about 7.5% of the total agricultural area of the UK) of second generation non-food bioenergy crops by the 2050s, bioenergy would make a significant contribution to delivering a cost-effective low carbon energy system for the country and create new jobs in the UK farming and forestry sectors.

First-generation crops, feedstocks that can also be consumed as food, currently dominate the UK energy crops sector. The planting, in tandem with existing crops, of second-generation crops, such as Miscanthus, Short Rotation Coppice willow and Short Rotation Forestry, will provide an opportunity to support the growth of sustainable biomass and deliver genuine emissions reductions.

However, in order to deliver the projected energy demand, the country will need to generate three times more bioenergy compared to today. This means the UK bioenergy sector needs a long-term vision and a greater understanding of how UK grown biomass can be deployed at scale. In the more immediate term there is the potential to restructure agricultural support to encourage growth of the biomass sector post-Brexit as use of second-generation crops can improve overall land productivity and create new jobs in the UK farming and forestry sectors.

Source: Company Press Release