Info!
UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Bioenergy turns up the heat in the UK

7/2/2024

8 min read

Close up of two hands, each palm upwards, holding a different form of shredded biomass feedstock Photo: Catriona Heaton, Aston University’s Supergen Bioenergy Hub
The UK currently produces around 65% of its biomass supply and imports most of the rest from the US and Canada

Photo: Catriona Heaton, Aston University’s Supergen Bioenergy Hub

The UK’s journey on the road to net zero will be powered in part by sustainable bioenergy according to the government’s Biomass Strategy, published last year. But how much of this zero-carbon energy can the UK produce and how much is needed as part of the energy mix? asks energy journalist Nick Cottam.

‘If you looked at everything we have in the UK and everything we could grow, we end up with a figure between 10 and 20%, split across fuel, heating and energy’, says Professor Patricia Thornley, referring to the percentage of biomass consumed in different markets. She is the Director of Aston University’s Supergen Bioenergy Hub, which brings together academia and industry, and provided scientific evidence to inform the UK government’s Strategy.

 

The difference between 10 and 20% is a pretty big disparity and that is all part of the sustainable bioenergy conundrum. Professor Thornley admits: ‘The question which the Biomass Strategy didn’t really answer is how you prioritise between those different uses.’ What’s self-evident, she adds, is that in the near term at least you do things that reduce carbon.

 

The biomass brew
The UK currently produces around 65% of its biomass supply and imports most of the rest from the US and Canada, but not Russia these days. Home-produced biomass comprises a rich organic brew of things like crops, food and animal waste, wood and timber. Thanks to the conversion of power plants like Drax – from coal to wood pellets – and the IronBridge plant in Severn Gorge, currently the largest pure biomass plant in the world, most of this domestic production goes towards generating electricity, while biodiesel and bioethanol are both important contributors in meeting the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO).

 

This content is for EI members only.
or join us as an EI Member to read all our Feature articles and receive exclusive EI perks from as little as £6 a month.