Tyndall Manchester has worked on the environmental and social assessment of bioenergy since 2003. The environmental and social consequences of bioenergy and biofuels vary substantially by feedstock type, conversion technology and end-use. Opinion is divided on the merits of incentivising a large scale, international trade in biomass for bioenergy, including liquid biofuel for transport. One of the reasons for this is because the benefits of this activity will very much depending upon global capacity for careful targeting, monitoring and management.
Cross-policy domain interactions
Complex cross-policy domain interactions can be expected to arise from a large scale international bioenergy and biofuel trade, which makes the area both an interesting and complicated area to research and operate in. Our work aims to study, clarify and contribute to policy and knowledge in this fast-developing area.
Patricia Thornley of Tyndall Manchester - REF discusses her research into Bioenergy at the 2012 Tyndall Assembly in Cardiff.
Most recently, Tyndall Manchester has led the theme on systems analysis, which evaluates the performance, cost and socio-economic benefits of a wide range of bioenergy chains. These range from use of domestic energy crops for home heating through to imported biomass for large scale electricity supply and consideration of advanced biorefinery concepts.
For each system greenhouse gas balances, environmental life cycle impacts, techno-economic analyses and social assessments are carried out, which inform an overall assessment of sustainability and policy development options. We have also investigated the governance aspects of bioenergy policy development, the energy and GHG balance of ammonia production from biomass and have undertaken a scoping assessment of producing fuel from marine macro-algae in UK and Irish coastal waters.
Supergen Biomass and Bioenergy Consortium
To date, most of Tyndall Manchester’s work on biomass and bioenergy has been carried out as part of the EPSRC Supergen Biomass and Bioenergy consortium. This aims to provide a recognised focus for UK biomass and bioenergy activities that unites key stakeholders and academia through leading edge research into renewable energy. The consortium studies production of different types of biomass, investigating their behaviour in thermal conversion processes designed to service demands across the heat, electricity, transport fuel and industrial demand sectors.
Biomass is unique within the renewables sector in that the sustainably accessible resource is finite. This project examines how best to utilise this limited resource in the UK investigating fuel characteristics, user requirements, conversion routes and their impacts.