UK Government’s net-zero plans ‘over-reliant’ on biomass and carbon capture
3rd February 2020 | Commercial Energy
The UK Government is over-prioritising carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and biomass in its net-zero plans and failing to account for the impact these technologies could have on land use. That is according to a new report from Chatham House’s energy, environment and resources department.
Entitled “Net-Zero and Beyond”, the report analyses the potential unintended consequences of scaling up BECCS in the UK and assesses the extent to which the technologies could deliver true and sustainable decarbonisation to the energy sector. BECCS has received a swathe of Government support and media coverage in recent times, both in the build-up to the ratification of the UK’s 2050 net-zero goal, and after its implementation. Supporters of the technologies point out that biomass, unlike gas or other fossil fuels, is renewable, and that it produces less emissions when burned. If these emissions can be captures for storage and reuse, the process can become carbon neutral or even carbon negative, firms including Drax have claimed.
Drax’s existing CCUS array, which is being used in partnership with C-Capture, first began capturing carbon in February at the firm’s biomass facility in North Yorkshire. The firm is planning to scale up its carbon capture arrays in line with a commitment to become net-zero by 2030 and to co-create a net-zero industrial hub, including carbon capture, with National Grid and Equinor. The UK Government has provided Drax and other BECCS-positive firms with much support in recent months, particularly after an Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) analysis explaining how BECCS could deliver roughly 55 million tonnes of net negative emissions a year in the UK – approximately half the nation’s emissions target – by the 2050s.
The Chatham House report, however, warns that BECCS is “no silver bullet” for a net-zero energy sector. It claims that there has not been enough research into the likely energy output of BECCS or the environmental impacts of scaling up biomass supply chains, making it difficult to determine whether BECCS systems can be carbon-neutral across the lifecycle.
More information available on the website below