Logistics partners sought for biomass project in UK

A new project to explore the future of biomass logistics in the UK is inviting proposals from potential partners.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is launching the six-month project to improve understanding of the possibilities for developing biomass logistics and identify the actions that need to be taken to ensure import, storage, transport options, processes and distribution are in place as the sector grows.

ETI’s whole energy system analysis shows that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in a future long-term low carbon UK energy system. Delivering the greatest value from bioenergy depends on the UK’s ability to source and distribute sufficient biomass from sustainable sources, either domestic or imported.

By developing infrastructure pathways for different bioenergy scenarios out to 2050, the new project aims to identify key decision points and the actions that would need to be taken to support the sector’s development in that time. In particular the project is seeking to identify those ‘scenario-resilient’ actions without which the infrastructure required would not keep pace with demand for bioenergy.

These infrastructure pathways will also take into consideration how the biomass logistics infrastructure has developed to date and will identify lessons that can be learned from the development of other relevant sectors such as oil, coal and other commodities.

Hannah Evans, ETI Bioenergy Strategy Analyst, said: “The bioenergy sector has seen significant growth in recent years, leading to increases in the quantity of both imported and domestically produced feedstock. ETI’s analysis shows that bioenergy can play a significant and valuable role in cost-effectively meeting the UK’s 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) targets.

“While supply has been able to keep up with demand to date, as the bioenergy sector continues to grow further investment will be needed to ensure sufficient quantities of biomass can be imported, stored, transported, processed and distributed to end users. In order to ensure the commercial viability of the biomass sector and minimise the cost to the consumer, it is important that the infrastructure for biomass logistics is developed and used efficiently, learning lessons from other sectors where appropriate.

“While domestic sources offer the greatest energy security and sustainability benefits in the longer-term, the UK currently doesn’t have enough of its own biomass feedstock today to supply a commercially-viable large-scale bioenergy sector.

“Therefore, the most pragmatic approach is to develop the sector based on near-term increases in biomass imports derived from sustainable sources, so the key actors in the supply chain can ‘learn by doing’ in terms of logistics, handling, designing and operating bioenergy conversion technologies. In parallel, support will also be needed to build up a strong and commercially-viable biomass feedstock supply chain in the UK to enable domestic biomass supplies to continue to play a significant role.”

A project information day will be held on the 4th April. More information is available via the ETI website. The deadline for notification of intention to submit a proposal is noon on 18th, and the request for proposals for the Biomass Logistics in the UK project will close at 12 noon on 29th April 2016.