Biomass Strategy: Transport fuels
The UK Government has published its Biomass Strategy, outlining their view on the role biomass will play in supporting the UK’s transition to net zero and how this will be achieved.
We worked closely with teams from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and other government departments to provide scientific evidence, context and insight to inform the strategy.
The information below provides context to the Biomass Strategy along with comment from lead academics in the Supergen Bioenergy Hub.
Biofuels already play a key role in UK transport fuel decarbonisation, with biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel having reduced the use of fossil fuels in road transport, for example is E5 and E10 petrol. In the short term whilst the transition to electric vehicles for road transport is underway, increased biofuel use will likely continue to be an important tool for reducing emissions, because they can be used with minimal infrastructure investment.
We agree with the principle laid out within the Biomass Strategy that given the increasing road fleet electrification, the priority for biofuels within transport in the longer term will be in transport applications that are harder to decarbonise. Carbon-based fuels from biomass will still be required for heavy transport, marine and aviation, especially until technological developments allow for electrification or the use of hydrogen for some applications. Biofuels can provide drop-in solutions, while the new fuel technologies and required infrastructure are developed and implemented. Additionally, the integration of carbon capture and storage in biofuel production processes (ie, employing BECCS for fuel production) can further reduce the emissions associated with the fuel’s lifecycle.
The recognition that low-carbon fuels such as biofuels will continue to play a role in coming decades, and that we need to manage this transition, reflects the recent report published by the Department for Transport (DfT) Science Advisory Council, for which the Supergen Bioenergy Hub Director Patricia Thornley was the lead author. We look forward to working with DfT on its low-carbon fuels framework which is expected later this year.
Biofuels provide a timely solution for the transport sector, but their emission reduction potential will depend on the context of where, how and what biofuels are used. The complexity of the transport sector, and the high-value and strategic nature of the capital infrastructure involved, mean that it is important to identify the ‘no regrets’ options for affordable and resilient transport fuels that support net zero targets.
Lead Author: Mirjam Röder, Associate Professorial Research Fellow at Aston University and Lead on Systems Topic Group at the Supergen Bioenergy Hub
Joanna Sparks, Biomass Policy Fellow, Supergen Bioenergy Hub, Aston University
Patricia Thornley, Director of the Supergen Bioenergy Hub and Energy Bioproducts Research Institute, Aston University