Report Launch webinar: biomass-derived hydrogen could help deliver net negative CO2 emissions


On 8 June 2020 the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research held a webinar with over 200 attendees from across the world to launch a new white paper, examining the potential for biomass-derived hydrogen with carbon capture and storage to deliver net negative CO2 emissions using only UK biomass.

Lead author Dr Mai Bui (Centre for Environmental Policy (CEP), Imperial College) presented the findings of the report. This was followed up by panel commentary from Dr Mathilde Fajardy (Energy Policy Research Group, University of Cambridge) and Dr Ausilio Bauen (CEP). A lively Q&A session ensued, run by co-chair Dr Piera Patrizio, which was joined by project lead Dr Niall Mac Dowell (CEP).

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), the process of extracting bioenergy from biomass and capturing and storing the carbon, is likely to play an important role in the decarbonisation of the UK energy system. However there are concerns about the sustainability of large scale BECCS deployment using bioenergy from dedicated energy crops. Secondary sources of biomass (e.g. waste wood, agricultural residues) could potentially provide an economical and sustainable alternative resource and using these would mean biomass could be sourced solely from within the UK. The white paper argues that by using UK biomass sources, we can remove up to 56 million tonnes of CO2 a year from the atmosphere without the need to import.

It also argues that regardless of the bioenergy conversion pathway used, BECCS deployment can substantially contribute to the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

There is growing interest in biomass-derived hydrogen production with carbon capture and storage (BHCCS), which generates hydrogen and removes CO2 from the atmosphere. Hydrogen could help decarbonise fuel-dependent sectors such as heat, industry and transportation.

The report shows that it will be more cost-effective to deploy BHCCS alongside other BECCS technologies, for instance power plants, or combined heat and power. By enabling flexibility to deploy multiple technologies, it is possible to achieve profitable scenarios.

Dr Bui said: “In the context of a net zero emissions future, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage will have likely have an important role. Biomass derived hydrogen production with CCS can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and generate hydrogen, providing opportunities to decarbonise sectors such as transport and heating.”

The paper recommends that we develop an understanding of how we can integrate BECCS technologies into an energy system on a national scale. To do this, we will need to consider the transition in future energy demand and how this will impact the evolution of energy infrastructure such as a hydrogen transport network.

Authors: Lead author Mai Bui, Mathilde Fajardy, Di Zhang and Niall Mac Dowell.

Download report.

Watch webinar.

Please cite this paper as: M. Bui, M. Fajardy, D. Zhang. N. Mac Dowell, (2020). Delivering negative emissions from biomass-derived hydrogen. H2FC SUPERGEN, London, UK.

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