United Kingdom

Low carbon group reports on innovations in bioenergy and heat

A series of assessments to outline the innovations in technology needed to ensure bioenergy can play a role in an affordable, secure and sustainable energy system of the future and to improve the efficiency of heating and energy use has been published this month by the Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group (LCICG).
Low carbon group reports on innovations in bioenergy and heat

The LCICG has also launched a new website bringing together and highlighting the work of its organisations operating across low carbon technologies.

The LCICG is made up of a range of different bodies including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Carbon Trust, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and other organisations with significant low carbon innovation interests.

The latest Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAs) focus on bioenergy, heat pumps, heat networks and heat storage.

They examine the potential for innovation in these technologies and assess the economic benefits to the UK. This work will also help to inform the prioritisation of public and private sector investment to ensure these technologies reach their full potential.

The UK’s Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, said: “We need to understand where best to invest in the low carbon arena to help spur on growth in our green economy. This new analysis on heat and bio energy will help us to do just that.”

Key findings of the Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAs):

Bioenergy: Bioenergy is a promising renewable energy source which could contribute significantly to future UK gas, power, transport fuel and heat demands. Its relative use across these energy markets is subject to significant innovation and market uncertainties, particularly regarding the existence of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The potential value of bioenergy innovation to the UK from reducing energy system costs is calculated to be £42bn in the medium scenario (ranging from £6 to £101bn*.)

The highest gains from increased innovation are estimated to be from increased levels of sustainable feedstock and from select conversion technologies, which are capable of converting wastes and other sustainable feedstocks. Key areas of innovation priority are woody/grassy crops with higher yields on marginal land, advanced biofuels demonstration, proof of integrated gasification systems at scale, and high efficiency biopower systems that are robust to a variety of feedstocks and ready for CCS.

Heat: The Heat TINA focuses on heat pumps, heat networks and heat storage as three key heat technologies that could play a key role in meeting UK and global heat demand in an emissions constrained future. Innovation in these technologies could reduce UK energy system costs by £14 - 66bn* to 2050, with heat storage also offering additional value. Innovation in this field could also help create a UK industry with the potential to contribute further economic value of £2 – 12bn to 2050.

The TINA findings will be used to inform and underpin the design and focus of DECC’s and other LCICG’s members’ programmes and activities in these technology areas.

The first TINA on offshore wind was published in February 2012. Further TINAs including CCS, marine energy and electricity networks and storage were published in August 2012.

*Cumulative from 2010 to 2050, present discounted values in low-high scenarios

"We very much welcome the publication of these two reports. Technology and innovation are key to stimulating market growth and realising the economic benefits of energy and resource efficiency in support of our wider low carbon and climate change ambitions," says Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy Enterprise and Tourism, Scottish Government.

The TINA analytical framework was developed and implemented by the Carbon Trust with contributions from all core LCICG members as well as input from numerous other expert individuals and organisations.

Each TINA analyses the potential role of the technology in the UK’s energy system; estimates the value to the UK from cutting the costs of the technology through innovation; estimates the value to the UK of the green growth opportunity from exports; assesses the case for UK public sector intervention in innovation; and identifies the potential innovation priorities to deliver the greatest benefit to the UK.

For additional information:

Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group

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