The overall aims of the project are to:

  • Assess the role of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in energy system scenarios and Integrated Assessment Models;
  • Quantify the implications for bioenergy resources of land availability, water and nutrients;
  • Examine the life cycle emissions and broader impacts on ecosystem services from biomass supply chains including land competition, soils, greenhouse gases, water use, and nutrient requirements;
  • Define implications for national and international trade (e.g. biomass / energy trade) and climate change policies.

Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) often consider BECCS as the most cost-effective negative emissions technologies to reach the aspirational target of the Paris Agreement of 2°C by 2100. Given the UK government’s stated target of net zero emissions, and the prominent role of BECCS in realising this target, the potential, feasibility and impacts of BECCS in the UK needs to be better defined.

In this project we will use the UK TIMES model and global TIAM-UCL model at UK and global scales to define possible future pathways of BECCS implementation. We will examine the combination of infrastructure requirements for both CCS and for biomass – the latter using the ETI Biomass Value Chain Model to define locations of biomass supply (domestic and imported), and a systems approach to model the timing and location of CCS pipelines and facilities. We will then use models and frameworks developed in previous UKERC, ETI and EPSRC/SuperGen funded projects to model sustainability impacts on soils, greenhouse gases, water use, nutrient requirements and impacts on other ecosystem services of BECCS deployment to meet UK net zero emissions.

The immediate policy beneficiaries of project outcomes will be the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which are actively engaged in gathering information on how to meet the Paris Agreement commitments and how to progress toward the Government’s stated aspiration of a zero carbon UK. Additional beneficiaries will be the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and NGOs representing land owners and managers for their long standing interest in agricultural diversification and bioenergy.


Key findings

Work is still underway and will be reported during late 2018 and early 2019.


Linked publications/outputs

Whitaker, J., Field, J., Bernacchi, C., Cerri, C.E.P., Ceulemans, R., Davies, C., DeLucia, E., Donnison, I., McCalmont, J., Paustian, K., Rowe, R., Smith, P., Thornley, P. & McNamara, N. 2018. Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 10, 150–164. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12488.

Smith, P., Price, J., Molotoks, A., Warren, R. & Mahli, Y. 2018. Impacts on terrestrial biodiversity of moving from a 2ᵒC to a 1.5ᵒC target. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, A. 376, 20160456. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0456.

Smith, P. 2018. Managing the global land resource. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. 285, 20172798. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2798.

Smith, P. & Porter, J.R. 2018. Bioenergy in the IPCC Assessments. Global Change Biology Bioenergy (in press). doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12514.

Minx, J.C., Lamb, W.F., Callaghan, M.W., Fuss, S., Hilaire, J., Creutzig, F., Amann, T., Beringer, T., de Oliveira Garcia, W., Hartmann, J., Khanna, T., Lenzi, D., Luderer, G., Nemet, G.F., Rogelj, J., Rogers, S., Smith, P. & del Mar Zamora, M. 2018. Negative emissions: Part 1 – research landscape and synthesis. Environmental Research Letters (in press).

Fuss, S., Lamb, W.F., Callaghan, M.W., Hilaire, J., Creutzig, F., Amann, T., Beringer, T., de Oliveira Garcia, W., Hartmann, J., Khanna, T., Koch, N., Luderer, G., Nemet, G.F., Rogelj, J., Smith, P., del Mar Zamora, M. & Minx, J.C. 2018. Negative emissions - Part 2: Costs, potentials and side effects. Environmental Research Letters (in press).

Nemet, G., Callaghan, M., Creutzig, F., Fuss, S., Hartmann, J., Hilaire, J., Lamb, W.F., Minx, J., Rogers, S. & Smith, P. 2018. Negative emissions - Part 3: Innovation and upscaling. Environmental Research Letters (in press).