New Supergen Bioenergy Hub scoping report assesses the capability of UK bioenergy models

Bioenergy is an integral part of the UK’s plans to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction objectives and addressing the question of biomass availability in the UK is key to scaling up deployment of sustainable bioenergy systems.

In response to this, the Hub was commissioned by the UK Government Department for Transport to produce a report which examines the current scope and capability of existing UK bioenergy models, focusing on their ability to assess:

  1. Sustainable supply of the biomass resource currently available to the UK and that that may be available in the future;
  2. How these models currently evaluate the levels of competition between sectors for this finite biomass resource, and;
  3. How current models evaluate sustainability issues such as the potential impacts and benefits to people, natural systems, development and the climate.

The UK Biomass Availability Modelling Scoping Report published by Hub researchers Andrew Welfle (University of Manchester), Rob Holland (University of Southampton), Iain Donnison (Aberystwyth University) and Patricia Thornley (Aston University), makes recommendations around the incorporation of natural capital thinking, representation of human actors, improving understanding of dynamic competition and demands, and policy influences on biomass resource availability.

Dr Chris Manson-Whitton (Chair of the Hub’s Industrial Advisory Board) welcomes the report and says:

“Sustainable biomass is an essential starting point for building a sustainable bioenergy system. When it comes to development of commercially viable projects that will be financially viable in the long term it is critical that project developers are confident that the feedstock they are using is and will continue to be sustainable, as this underpins the carbon reductions that we aim to deliver.”

“As bioenergy expands in the UK and elsewhere, we need to be careful to be sure that we are using the limited resource in a way that is consistent with achieving UK climate ambitions to be net zero by 2050. Modelling of availability levels under different scenarios is a very important part of that and so, on behalf of the industrial advisory board of the Supergen Bioenergy Hub, I welcome this report.”

“It seeks to identify the capabilities and constraints of the different bioenergy modelling tools available, to highlight the accuracy limitations of such forecasts and where there is a need to undertake more detailed analysis to ensure that we prioritise the best use of biomass moving forward. That will ultimately benefit developers who want to be confident that they are making the right feedstock choices and it highlights to government some gaps that need to be addressed to support governance as we move forward with an expanded UK bioenergy portfolio.”

The report is available on our website here.

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