Biomass is a flexible resource, capable of conversion to heat, power, and transport fuel energy vectors (as well as bio-materials). While there is a significant potential to increase biomass production through land-use changes of lower grade land in the UK, the prioritisation of biomass use, and requisite technology toolkit to exploit this biomass is not clear.

Biomass produced in the UK could provide up to 10% of UK Energy in 2050. While the sustainability issues involved in land-use changes and greatly increased UK biomass production are being analysed in other bio energy projects; this project is focussed on developing a detailed understanding of the technical and cost barriers associated with biomass to power with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies.

Biomass conversion to heat and/or power combined with CCS could provide the UK with substantial net negative CO2 emissions, with the potential to remove 50 to 100 MT of CO2 from the atmosphere on an annual basis (depending on capture rates) and provide 80 to 120 TWhr of electricity annually.

As the UK progresses in order to meet a 159MT CO2e requirement for 2050, there will be clear quick wins and progression points; however the further down the curve, the higher the potential costs of supply and demand side reduction. Hence the incremental costs of moving from hitting a 250MT target to 159MTCO2e target become incredibly real. In this context, a technology choice that is capable of creating “50 to 100MT of negative carbon” could be compelling, depending on the cost at which this technology option can be developed and deployed. There are currently a few small CCS demonstrators in development with the potential to co-fire small amounts of biomass, such as the 30MW Vattenfall oxyfuel pilot plant inaugurated in 2008.

In addition, there are a number of 300 to 400MW dedicated biomass power plants in the planning and consent phase in the UK. Biomass co-firing is also carried out on a number of fossil-fired plants which could conceivably be fitted with CCS in the future. Thus the potential to incorporate carbon capture and storage into power plants using biomass is foreseeable in the near as well as distant future.

“CCS Ready” Feedstock & Conversion Technologies

Biomass power with CCS has three main components:

  • A biomass feedstock supply chain
  • A power plant conversion system
  • A carbon capture technology

There are numerous potential combinations of these components that can yield a viable biomass CCS route. These generally involve the combustion or gasification of biomass (either in dedicated systems or co-fired with fossil fuels), combined with one of the three carbon capture categories (post-combustion, oxy-combustion or pre-combustion).

The team at CMCL strives to advance its know-how via partnering in innovative initiatives and sharing the outcomes and knowledge with the community. As an example, our collaborative research “Techno-economics of Biomass-based Power Generation with CCS Technologies for Deployment in 2050” is featured as a book chapter in “Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS)” book, published by Wiley in 2018. The book chapter can be accessed via this link.

Visit our Publications and User Stories pages for more resources. Contact us to know more about how CMCL’s offering in Biomass and CCS domains can help your decarbonisation projects.