Dave Elliott: The UK government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has had another look at biomass, following on from its earlier study, and thinks it could play a vital role in UK emission reduction, as can biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in many scenarios. In the new report the CCC says that “using biomass with CCS to store carbon and produce a useful energy service is likely to deliver more abatement than most other potential end-uses. Based on our current expectations of BECCS costs and technical performance, we conclude that biomass available for use in the energy system (i.e. after wood in construction opportunities have been satisfied) should be used with BECCS applications to the maximum extent possible”. So, it’s BECCS all the way, offering carbon negativity, a view partly shared by the IPCC in its recent climate review. The prospects of BECCS offering large-scale carbon negativity is in fact illusory, or at least uncertain. But POST, and it seems CCC, still seem wedded to CCS. So, evidently, is the government, with a fossil gas CCS project planned for Scotland “in the mid-2020s”. More immediately, there is a small prototype BECCS project underway at Drax, although with no carbon storage as yet. Time was when some saw BECCS as riding on the coat tails of CCS. Now if anything it might be the other way around, though it’s all rather uncertain: there may be better options.
Physics World 12th Dec 2018 read more »