Supergen Bioenergy Hub Annual Assembly 2020 focuses on the UK biomass strategy, collaboration and the path to net zero
This year our Annual Assembly took place online, due to the ongoing situation around Covid-19, showcasing the Hub’s latest work in areas ranging from sustainability frameworks, thermal conversion technologies, hydrogen and biomass feedstocks.
Over 180 colleagues, partners and stakeholders from industry, policy and academia came together to discuss the UK biomass strategy, opportunities for collaboration and development, and how bioenergy can play a key role in the path to net zero.
In addition to hearing from Hub researchers on the latest work in their Topic Groups, we welcomed an array of external speakers to provide valuable industry and policy perspectives on our research areas, which can be found below in the summary of the assembly programme and accompanying links to recordings of each session.
Monday 16 November
Early Career Researcher Forum
The Early Career Researcher (ECR) forum saw over 50 ECRs come together to hear about skills policymakers are looking for, to understand opportunities for industrial secondments and to engage in a seminar session delivered by Insights which explored personality types and focused on personal and professional development.
Assembly Opening and Policy Discussion
Hub Director Patricia Thornley opened the assembly and introduced Peter Coleman, Head of Land Use and Bioenergy Science (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) who presented on the role of bioenergy in a net zero world. This was followed by a discussion between Patricia, Peter and the Hub Topic Group Leaders on the UK biomass strategy and their priorities for future policy.
Topic Group 2: Pretreatment and conversion
Topic Group 2 focused on the considerable interaction and cooperation across the three areas of pretreatment, pyrolysis and catalytic conversion with new ionic liquid pretreatment processes providing samples for pyrolysis and photoreforming. Presentations were given by Hub researchers on their latest work in addition to external presenters Kevin Chown (Kew Technology Ltd) and Dan Green (UK Water Industry Reseearch & Wessex Water), who provided invaluable perspectives which help frame work in this area in wider commercial and industrial contexts.
Topic Group 4: Systems
Topic Group 4 focused on sustainability and frameworks, with presentations from the Hub on the development of a new sustainability indicator model. This was followed by external speakers Carolina Grassi (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomass) and Constance Miller (Global Bioenergy Partnership) who presented the concepts of their sustainability frameworks, which led into an insightful panel discussion which explored the challenges of assessing sustainability, due to the complexity and scale of the factors involved.
International Energy Agency Bioenergy Roundup
Hub Director Patricia Thornley introduced presentations from Berend Vreugdenhil, Task 33 Lead (Gasification of Biomass and Waste), Jerry Murphy, Task 37 Lead (Energy from Biogas) and Zoe Harris, Task 45 UK Lead (Climate and Sustainability Effects of Bioenergy within the broader Bioeconomy) which provided updates on the latest work in these bioenergy related tasks.
Hub Partner Poster Session
Hub partners from the University of Glasgow, University of Sheffield, University of Warwick and Solartech350 presented on topics including waste-to-hydrogen technologies, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, the production of fish feed from waste using renewable thermal and ultrahigh resolution insights into the chemistry of complex mixtures.
Tuesday 17 November
Topic Group 1: Resources
Topic Group 1 focused on biomass feedstocks, land use and delivering ecosystem benefits. In addition to presentations from Hub researchers, Bren Hodkinson (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and Stuart Roberts (National Farmers’ Union) gave their perspectives on the challenges of the transition to net zero, with a clear message that academia, industry and policymakers need to collaborate to succeed.
Topic Group 3: Vectors
Topic Group 3 focused on hydrogen, with presentations from Chris Manson-Whitton (Progressive Energy) and Mark Sommerfeld (Renewable Energy Association), exploring the barriers to adoption and implementation of hydrogen as an energy vector in addition to the potential for greenhouse gas reduction.
Hub Funded Project Poster Session
Hub Project Manager Emma Wylde delivered an update about funding opportunities available and the awards made to date, followed by presentations from five of the flexible funding projects currently working on a range of topics, including a demonstration of the new Supergen Bioenergy App.
Assembly Close and Next Steps
Hub Director Patricia Thornley was joined by Mike Colechin, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the UKRI Energy Programme, to reflect on presentations and discussions from the assembly and the implications for bioenergy and its role in the path to net zero, with key focus on the need for continued collaboration between academia and industry to overcome the challenges ahead.