REA: Bioenergy needed to meet net-zero GHG goals

By Erin Voegele | June 05, 2019

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association has released the second installment of its industry-led Bioenergy Strategy, reporting that bioenergy can meeting the U.K.’s projected shortfall of the 5th Carbon Budget and the impending nuclear gap.

According to the report, bioenergy already meets 7.4 percent of the U.K.’s energy needs. The REA’s analysis shows that bioenergy production can be increased by a factor of 2.5 in the U.K. by 2032 and will be “required to meet the U.K.’s legally binding carbon budgets and realize ‘Net-Zero’ by 2050.”

The REA determined that this increased deployment of bioenergy across the power, heat and transportation sectors could address two-thirds of the projected shortfall in carbon reductions required to meet the Committee on Climate Change’s legally binding 5th Carbon Budget.

“Assuming the government follows the CCC’s recommendation that the U.K. should set a net zero emission target by 2050, this vision demonstrates that bioenergy will be necessary for its attainment,” the REA said in a summary of the report.

The REA also found that bioenergy for power generation provides an alternative go nuclear power as a low-carbon, dispatchable source of electricity and cold close the predicted “nuclear gap” of 72 terawatt hours (TWh) caused by shelved nuclear projects.

Overall, the REA’s report shows bioenergy could increase by more than 60 percent between 2020 and 2026, and by a factor of 2.5 by 2032. The overall share of bioenergy in final energy demand could increase from 5.5 percent in 2020 to 9.5 percent in 2026 and nearly 15 percent in 2032, according to the report. As a result, the generation of renewable heat could increase from 6.6 percent in 2020 to nearly 10 percent in 2026 and 16.3 percent in 2023. In the transportation sector, bioenergy could grow from 2 percent in 2020 to 7 percent in 2026 and 12 percent in 2032. In the power sector, bioenergy would increase from 11 percent in 2020 to 2020 to 13.5 percent in 2026 and 17 percent in 2023.

The REA, however, cautioned that a lack of supportive policy framework is currently constraining the future of bioenergy projects in the heat, power and transportation sectors.

“If the U.K. is to achieve net-zero GHG by 2050 and meet its legally binding Carbon Budgets, we must adhere to the advice of the Committee on Climate Change and significantly increase the deployment of renewable technologies,” said Adam Brown, author of the Bioenergy Strategy report.

“Bioenergy presents numerous options across heat, power and transport, and the U.K. is not in a position to be casting away renewable, sustainable and cost effective solutions,” Brown continued. “This report outlines the possibilities for the U.K. if we grasp the opportunity the bioenergy sector presents.”

“Increasing the deployment of bioenergy is the only realistic solution to affordably and sustainably bridge the anticipated energy gap and rapidly decarbonize the U.K. in line with legally binding targets,” added Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA.

“Bioenergy is a no regrets solution to achieving these targets due to its ability to provide immediate and affordable GHG savings through existing infrastructure whilst facilitating the development and commercialization of future technologies,” Skorupska continued.

The REA released the first installment of its Bioenergy Strategy in March.

A full copy of the second installment of the strategy can be downloaded from the REA’s website