ETI’s whole energy system analysis has shown that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in a future long-term, low carbon, UK energy system. However, delivering the greatest value from bioenergy depends on the country’s ability to source and distribute sufficient biomass from sustainable sources, either domestic or imported. The project is aiming to identify key decision points and the actions that would need to be taken in order to support the sector’s development out to 2050. It would achieve this by developing infrastructure pathways for different bioenergy scenarios. In particular, the project is seeking to identify ‘scenario-resilient’ actions without which the required infrastructure would not be able to 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.
“The bioenergy sector has seen significant growth in recent years, leading to increases in the quantity of both imported and domestically produced feedstock” said Hannah Evans, ETI’s Bioenergy Strategy Analyst. “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.”
Ms Evans added that 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.
ETI will be holding a project information day on 4th April.
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