09.12.11: The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK Government advisers, has released a new review highlighting the importance of taking a sustainable and strategic approach to bioenergy to meet UK carbon budgets. The review draws on UKERC’s latest report – Energy from biomass: the size of the global resource, released last month.
UKERC’s report reviewed more than 90 global studies to get to the heart of the controversy surrounding the role that biomass could play in the future energy systems. The results suggest that up to one fifth of global energy could be provided by biomass (plants) without damaging food production.
“If we make the best use of agricultural residues, energy crops and waste materials then getting one fifth of current global energy supply from biomass is a reasonable ambition”, says Dr Raphael Slade, the report’s lead author and a Research Fellow at Imperial College London. “But it is also evident that more bio-energy you want the harder it becomes to reconcile demand for food, energy and environmental protection.”
The CCC report concludes that the UK will need to use at least 10% bioenergy and recommends that it is used for hard to decarbonise sectors such as aviation.
Both reports suggest that technical advances provide the least contentious route to increased bio-energy production, but it is clear that policy will need to encourage innovation and investment. “A renewed focus on increasing food and energy crop yields could deliver a win-win opportunity as long as it is done without damaging soil fertility or depleting water resources”, says Dr Slade. “There’s plenty of scope for experimentation to make sure we get it right”.
UKERC ‘s report of the global biomass resource and the CCC’s review look at the role of biomass in future carbon budgets and will feed in to the UK Government’s Bioenergy strategy due to be published in Spring 2012.
Download a copy of the UKERC report Energy from biomass: the size of the global resource
For further information about the CCC’s Bioenergy Review please visit - http://www.theccc.org.uk/reports/bioenergy-review
Energy from biomass: the size of the global resource. An assessment of the evidence that biomass can make a major contribution to future global energy supply.
For further information, to speak to any of the report authors, or to request a hard copy of the report please contact Charlotte Knight, Communications Officer at UKERC on charlotte.knight at ukerc.ac.uk or 020 7594 1573 or Lindsay Wright, Head of Communications on lindsay.wright at ukerc.ac.uk or 020 7594 2669.
Notes to editors
The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) is the focal point for UK research on sustainable energy. It takes an independent, whole-systems approach, drawing on engineering, economics and the physical, environmental and social sciences.
The Centre's role is to promote cohesion within the overall UK energy research effort. It acts as a bridge between the UK energy research community and the wider world, including business, policymakers and the international energy research community, and is the centrepiece of the Research Councils' Energy Programme.
IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON:
Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.
In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.