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Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): a review

Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): a review

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This is a review paper intended to provide an overview of debates relating to BECCS or bio-CCS, which are alternative terms for the coupling of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The paper follows from a workshop held in December 2009, hosted by the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh, organised by Tyndall Manchester at the University of Manchester and funded by the Tyndall Centre. The principal rationale for BECCS is that whereas the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is more than 380ppmv and rising, achieving the European policy aspiration of not exceeding a global temperature rise of 2◦C is likely to require atmospheric concentrations of below 350ppmv CO2e. In theory, BECCS has the potential to help draw the atmospheric CO2 concentration below present levels, or at least to contribute to its reduction. Yet while BECCS enthusiasts have drawn support from scenarios of large scale global bioenergy supply and the co-option of this into BECCS systems, the assumptions of accessible CCS capture, pipeline and storage infrastructure and that large scale bioenergy supply can be reconciled with competing uses of land (and water) are both uncertain. While biomass co-firing with coal offers an early route to BECCS, use of CCS to justify prolonged use of coal is contentious because it is seen as potentially reducing the incentive to transition to low carbon energy systems. Moreover, a quite substantial (>20%) biomass component may be necessary to achieve negative emissions in a co-fired BECCS system (a percentage that is dependent, of course, on system assumptions). Financially, neither BECCS nor CCS are currently remotely competitive in Europe, given EUA prices. It should also be noted that EU ETS is not currently designed to credit negative emissions. Nonetheless, in cost terms, bioenergy compares well with other carbon abatement options, particularly if wastes or residues are used as fuel, and modelling suggests that BECCS would be an important component of energy systems intended to reach 350pmv CO2. We judge that BECCS can and likely will play a role in carbon reduction, but that care needs to be taken to minimise the risks of disincentivising inherently low carbon energy systems via lock-in of fossil CCS. Care also needs to be taken not to exaggerate the potential of BECCS, given that (a) there are few studies of the cost of connecting bio-processing (combustion, gasification or other) infrastructure with CO2 storage sites; and (b) that scenarios of global bioenergy potential remain contentious.
This is a review paper intended to provide an overview of debates relating to BECCS or bio-CCS, which are alternative terms for the coupling of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The paper follows from a workshop held in December 2009, hosted by the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh, organised by Tyndall Manchester at the University of Manchester and funded by the Tyndall Centre. The principal rationale for BECCS is that whereas the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is more than 380ppmv and rising, achieving the European policy aspiration of not exceeding a global temperature rise of 2◦C is likely to require atmospheric concentrations of below 350ppmv CO2e. In theory, BECCS has the potential to help draw the atmospheric CO2 concentration below present levels, or at least to contribute to its reduction. Yet while BECCS enthusiasts have drawn support from scenarios of large scale global bioenergy supply and the co-option of this into BECCS systems, the assumptions of accessible CCS capture, pipeline and storage infrastructure and that large scale bioenergy supply can be reconciled with competing uses of land (and water) are both uncertain. While biomass co-firing with coal offers an early route to BECCS, use of CCS to justify prolonged use of coal is contentious because it is seen as potentially reducing the incentive to transition to low carbon energy systems. Moreover, a quite substantial (>20%) biomass component may be necessary to achieve negative emissions in a co-fired BECCS system (a percentage that is dependent, of course, on system assumptions). Financially, neither BECCS nor CCS are currently remotely competitive in Europe, given EUA prices. It should also be noted that EU ETS is not currently designed to credit negative emissions. Nonetheless, in cost terms, bioenergy compares well with other carbon abatement options, particularly if wastes or residues are used as fuel, and modelling suggests that BECCS would be an important component of energy systems intended to reach 350pmv CO2. We judge that BECCS can and likely will play a role in carbon reduction, but that care needs to be taken to minimise the risks of disincentivising inherently low carbon energy systems via lock-in of fossil CCS. Care also needs to be taken not to exaggerate the potential of BECCS, given that (a) there are few studies of the cost of connecting bio-processing (combustion, gasification or other) infrastructure with CO2 storage sites; and (b) that scenarios of global bioenergy potential remain contentious.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on Dec 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/10/2012

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Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage(BECCS): a review
 
Claire Gough, Paul Upham
 
Decem
ber 
2010 
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchWorking Paper 14
7
 
 
Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS):a review
The Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester Manchester Institute of Innovation Research 
 
Claire GoughPaul Upham
Theme: Energy
Tyndall Working Paper 147, December 2010
Please note that Tyndall working papers are "work in progress". Whilst they arecommented on by Tyndall researchers, they have not been subject to a full peer review.The accuracy of this work and the conclusions reached are the responsibility of theauthor(s) alone and not the Tyndall Centre.
 
 
Abstract
This is a review paper intended to provide an overview of debates relating toBECCS or bio-CCS, which are alternative terms for the coupling of bioenergy withcarbon capture and storage (CCS). The paper follows from a workshop held inDecember 2009, hosted by the Scottish Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage atthe University of Edinburgh, organised by Tyndall Manchester at the University of Manchester and funded by the Tyndall Centre. The principal rationale for BECCSis that whereas the current atmospheric concentration of CO
2
is more than380ppmv and rising, achieving the European policy aspiration of not exceeding aglobal temperature rise of 2
C is likely to require atmospheric concentrations of below 350ppmv CO
2
e. In theory, BECCS has the potential to help to bring theatmospheric CO
2
concentration to below present levels, or at least to contribute toits reduction by delivering “negative emissions”. By capturing and storing the CO
2
 absorbed from the atmosphere by bioenergy feedstocks, BECCS can, in theory,deliver power and heat production with net negative emissions. Yet, while BECCSenthusiasts have drawn support from scenarios of large scale global bioenergysupply and its co-option into BECCS systems, the assumptions of sufficientaccessible CCS capture, pipeline and storage infrastructure and that large scalebioenergy supply can be reconciled with competing uses of land (and water) areboth uncertain. While biomass co-firing with coal offers an early route to BECCS,a quite substantial (>20%) biomass component may be necessary to achievenegative emissions in a co-fired BECCS system (a percentage that is dependent, of course, on system assumptions). Financially, significant incentives will benecessary to establish either BECCS or CCS; neither are currently competitive inEurope, given carbon prices within the EU ETS which is also not currentlydesigned to credit negative emissions. Nonetheless, in cost terms, bioenergycompares well with other carbon abatement options, particularly if wastes orresidues are used as fuel, and modelling suggests that BECCS would be animportant component of energy systems intended to reach 350pmv CO
2
e. We judgethat BECCS can and likely will play a role in carbon reduction, but that care needsto be taken to minimise the risks of disincentivising inherently low carbon energysystems via lock-in of fossil CCS. Care also needs to be taken not to exaggerate thepotential of BECCS, given that (a) there are few studies of the cost of connectingbio-processing (combustion, gasification or other) infrastructure with CO
2
storagesites; and (b) that scenarios of global bioenergy potential remain contentious.

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