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The role of biomass in the drive to Net-Zero?

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The role of biomass in the drive to Net-Zero?

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At the UK Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet) Annual Conference 13-15th October 2021, NNFCC's Director and Lead Consultant on Biobased Products, Dr Adrian Higson, gave a presentation:

'The role of biomass in the drive to Net Zero?'

The UK Government aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) conclude that sustainable biomass can play a significant role in achieving this, providing it is prioritised for the most valuable end-uses.

At the UK Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet) Annual Conference 13-15th October 2021, NNFCC's Director and Lead Consultant on Biobased Products, Dr Adrian Higson, gave a presentation:

'The role of biomass in the drive to Net Zero?'

The UK Government aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) conclude that sustainable biomass can play a significant role in achieving this, providing it is prioritised for the most valuable end-uses.

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The role of biomass in the drive to Net-Zero?

  1. 1. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 The role of biomass in the drive to Net Zero? BBNet Annual Conference October 2021
  2. 2. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 A specialist business consultancy with over 18 years of bioeconomy experience Providing clients with a strategic view of feedstock, technology, policy and market development across the bioeconomy. Enabling informed business decisions and sustainable business strategies.
  3. 3. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Enabling policy deployment
  4. 4. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 UK Bioeconomy (LBNet Conference 2018) 2008 Gallagher Review 2008 IBTI Club 2009 Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Growth Team 2010 BBSRC confirm IB & Bioenergy as one of its strategic priorities 2013 Industrial Biotechnology Showcase 2014 Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst 2014 Networks in Industrial Biotechnology & Bioenergy 2015 Govt Building a high value bioeconomy report 2016 IB Catalyst mothballed 2018 IFR Biorefinery Centre closes 2016 BioPilots UK formed 2011 NIBF expansion 2007 Launch of NIBF at CPI 2017 Call for new NIBB 2018 Bioeconomy strategy Bioeconomy sector deal Industrial strategy challenge fund
  5. 5. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Climate change urgency
  6. 6. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 The UK’s fossil dependency Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics, 2000 and 2020 2000
  7. 7. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Net Zero ‘The UK should set and vigorously pursue an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to 'net-zero' by 2050, ending the UK's contribution to global warming within 30 years.’ Known actions low-carbon electricity (which must quadruple its supply by 2050), efficient buildings and low-carbon heating electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage (CCS), diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill, phase-out of fluorinated gases, increased afforestation and measures to reduce emissions on farms.
  8. 8. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Net Zero ‘A net-zero GHG target is not credible unless policy is ramped up significantly’ Criticisms no serious plan for decarbonising heating. Carbon capture (usage) and storage untested. Afforestation targets not being delivered. Challenges Industry must be largely decarbonised. Heavy goods vehicles must switch to low-carbon fuel sources. Emissions from international aviation and shipping. A fifth of our agricultural land must shift to alternative uses that support emissions reduction. Remaining emissions must be fully offset by removing CO₂ from the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it.
  9. 9. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Climate Change Committee (CCC) - Biomass in a low-carbon economy Findings: • Managing biomass stocks is an important component of global climate mitigation strategies. • Sustainably harvested biomass can play a significant role in meeting long-term climate targets, provided it is prioritised for the most valuable end-uses. Recommendations: • Increase the volume of carbon stored in our forests and land. • Food and biodegradable waste must be collected separately from other refuse in all areas across the UK. • Rules governing the supply of sustainable sources of biomass for energy need to be improved. • Biomass must be used in the most effective way. Uses that enable long-term carbon storage should be prioritised.
  10. 10. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Biomass flexibility and inflexibility Physical characteristics limit technical processability Geography and logistics limit economic viability
  11. 11. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Sustainable use of Biomass and Land Provisioning services Cultural services Supporting services Regulating services Sustainability is regional and personal. Policy restrains demand and places sustainability criteria to avoid damage to regulating and supporting services. To date policy has been siloed e.g. RO, RTFO, RHI, FIT etc with limited technical restrictions on feedstock use or the use of incentives to sway feedstock choice. How to find a balance between demand for provisioning and cultural services. And furthermore between provisioning services?
  12. 12. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Bioenergy
  13. 13. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Total area of crops grown for bioenergy, UK 2008 - 2018 0 20 40 60 80 1 00 1 20 1 40 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 wheat for bioethanol barley for bioethanol oilseed Rape for biodiesel sugar Beet for bioethanol maize for anaerobic digestion short rotation coppice miscanthus NB 1) Maize, SRC and miscanthus are England only 2) Barley and maize only included from 2014 3) for other caveats see originally data set https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/943264/nonfood-statsnotice2019-10dec20v3.pdf In 2019 arable land used for bioenergy crops in the UK equated to 1.6% of the total arable area (20% of which was used for biofuel production) Thousand hectares
  14. 14. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Biomass as a UK energy source In 2018, around 82% of wood pellets imported were from the United States and Canada. 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 Biomass Wind, wave, water Biofuel Solar Waste from households and similar Other Energy consumption from renewable and waste sources, by source, UK, 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/articles/aburningissuebiomassisthebiggestsourceofrenewableenergyconsumedintheuk/2019-08-30 Biomass" category includes plant (e.g. straw or crops) and animal biomass (e.g. poultry litter), wood (e.g. wood pellets) and charcoal. %
  15. 15. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 UK biofuel production (2019) In 2019 289 million litres eq. of renewable fuel was produced from UK origin feedstock. The most common source of biodiesel was Used Cooking oil (118 million litres). The most common source of bioethanol from UK origin feedstock was sugar beet (64 million litres). Increasing blending obligation (11.235% to 14.155% by 2032) with decreasing crop cap (3.83% to 2.00% in 2032). https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/932933/renewable-fuel-statistics-2019- final-report.pdf
  16. 16. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 So what does valuable mean? How to stimulate the use of residues, wastes? Where the economic value of biomass as feedstock for primary products is clear. How do incentives for marginal economic opportunities affect established markets?
  17. 17. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Carbon The elemental backbone of the global economy
  18. 18. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Petrochemicals Direct blending of renewable naphtha into cracker feeds allows bio-attributed production of 1000’s of chemical derivatives. The use of natural gas grid allows mass balanced production of bio-attributed chemicals through the introduction of biomethane.
  19. 19. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Changing oil demand Global climate change policies are expected to impact on oil demand. In response to the electrification of transport refiners will move to on purpose chemicals production. Oil prices are likely to be supressed in the near term but increasing exploration and refining costs spread across a smaller market will lead to an increasing price of fuel and chemical feedstocks.
  20. 20. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Increasing demand for petrochemicals 14% 7% 25% 8% 28% 7% 11% Global Oil Consumption (2019) Ethane and LPG Naphtha Gasoline Jet/kerosene Diesel/gasoil Fuel oil Others Source: bp Statistical Review of World Energy 2020, IEA Oil 2020 Global demand for petrochemical feedstock accounted roughly 12 percent of total demand for oil in 2017. Petrochemicals are likely to be responsible for ~50% in the growth in oil consumption between 2020 and 2025
  21. 21. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Petrochemical alternatives Reduce consumption Business models Process and material efficiency Alternative materials Metals and glass both have functional and energy issues Sustainable carbon sources Recycled carbon Direct Air Capture Biomass
  22. 22. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 biobased
  23. 23. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 UK Plastics - An economic, social and environmental opportunity? The UK consumes around 5 million tonnes of plastic per year. The UK plastic industry consumes around 3.3 million tonnes of raw materials per year. The industry is heavily reliant on imports of raw material, amounting to around 1.6 million tonnes per year. UK Plastics Employment 182,000 direct jobs (3rd biggest manufacturing sector). Turnover of £25.5bn per year. Exports worth over £8bn a year (top 10) Source: British Plastic Federation
  24. 24. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Value beyond carbon Energy Environ. Sci., 2021, 14, 4358-4376 Macromolecular Bioscience 7(2):105-17 Taking advantage of product value and process stoichiometry to oxygenated intermediates. Targets for biotech based production.
  25. 25. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Ethanol Value Chain Globally, the only large scale BECCS project is based on the production of bioethanol. Source: E4tech & LCAworks
  26. 26. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Not just more of the same! Reduced resource requirements. Simpler product design and material requirements. Improved product shelf life. Reduced end-of-life issues New feedstock provides new chemical platforms and the potential for new chemicals and polymers, with improved or new functionality.
  27. 27. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Effective use of biomass Circular economy Cascading use Resource efficiency Deploy biorefinery principles ensuring the optimum use of all components of biomass. Best practice in process design for efficient material conversions. Follow cascading principles of material use followed by energy recovery with carbon capture, utilisation and finally storage Co-development of product and systems and infrastructure to enable circular use.
  28. 28. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Sequestering carbon in the economy Circular economy and BECCS
  29. 29. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Some concluding thoughts The use of biomass is currently the only way to turn off the fossil fuel tap. Sustainability is not one dimensional, reducing carbon emissions is just one aspect of the value of biomass, also economic, societal and other environmental needs. Biobased manufacturing will also have higher environment impacts over fossil production, need to contextualise impacts. Biomass feedstock provides opportunities for new chemistry enabling the design of better products, with greater ‘in-use’ performance. Biobased products are a functional form of biomass, and through cascading use eventually a feedstock for BECCS.
  30. 30. Copyright © NNFCC 2021 Thank You for listening While the use of biomass to produce fuel, chemicals & material isn't necessarily sustainable, the use of fossil fuels is unquestionably unsustainable. a.higson@nnfcc.co.uk @biobasedchem

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