EIRO2.0: Bionenergy modelling

Bioenergy is a significant UK renewable energy source. It will be key for the UK’s Net Zero ambitions when coupled with carbon capture and storage technologies to deliver net negative emissions, commonly termed BECCS.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) commissioned Energy Systems Catapult to model planting scenarios for three energy crops: Miscanthus, short rotation forestry (SRF) and short rotation coppice (SRC) willow.

What did we do?

A ‘Central Assumption’ and ‘Reduced Ambition’ land area limit scenario was provided by DESNZ for each of the three energy crops.

Modelling was performed using the Catapult’s bioenergy model (ESME Bioenergy), an end-to-end model of bioenergy in the UK to 2050. ESME Bioenergy answers the ‘what, where, when’ questions for planting, transport, and bioenergy facilities under different targets and constraints. It optimises for the entire bioenergy value chain on a 50x50km grid scale representing the UK, providing a useful spatial resolution for crop planting.

What did we find?

The key planting trends in the 2050s for the three energy crops across all scenarios were:

  • Miscanthus is typically planted along the east coast of England, from Humberside to as far south as Essex, and is used in BECCS facilities in East Norfolk or the Humber cluster. It is also frequently planted to a smaller degree in or around Merseyside and Teesside to supply BECCS facilities in these clusters.
  • SRF was typically planted along the England and Wales border region to supply BECCS facilities in the Merseyside and South Wales clusters, or for use in large-scale combustion boilers for heat co-located with feedstock growth.
  • SRC is typically planted across the north west and north of England, the west of Scotland, and Northern Ireland. SRC is used in BECCS facilities mostly in either Merseyside or Teesside, or in large-scale combustion boilers for heat co-located with feedstock growth.

One of the key observations across the scenarios is that the presence and location of end user facilities, typically hydrogen or power BECCS, influenced where energy crops were grown.

This project has highlighted the importance of considering the location and scale of end user demand for energy crops, rather than simply the potential yield of a parcel of land.

What could be done next?

Recommendations for future work include additional scenarios considering detailed targets for bioenergy vectors and greenhouse gas removals, modelling scenarios with different levels of biomass imports, and standalone modelling of each nation of the UK. Further details are included in the report.

Read the Report

EIRO2.0: Bioenergy modelling – final report

Dataset: EIRO2.0: Bioenergy modelling - Results Dataset

Results data arising from the EIRO2.0 Bioenergy modelling project. Contains land use areas and crop yields for Miscanthus, short rotation coppice, and short rotation forestry for each of the final scenarios.

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Dataset: EIRO2.0: Bionenergy modelling

Input dataset associated with the EIRO2.0: Bionenergy modelling project. Scenario settings, configurations, and data used in the modelling work.

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