ETI modelling suggests that any future UK energy system capable of delivering on its climate change targets, that is built without the use of bioenergy, would cost more than £50billion per year more by 2050.

ETI’s own analysis and work by the Committee on Climate Change (2011), and work funded by the UK Research Councils (e.g. TSec-Biosys, Supergen and the Rural Economy Land Use Programmes) have shown the UK could potentially utilise reasonable volumes of domestically grown biomass to help fuel the UK’s energy future.

To achieve this and in order for bio-dedicated conversion technologies to be confidently designed and deployed, there is a need for greater knowledge of the variability in feedstock characteristics, and understanding of how these affect, on a system level, the overall costs and performance of biomass value chains. A significant part of this, is the need to assess the system level value of biomass pre-processing activities.

The Techno-economic Assessment of Biomass Pre-processing project will provide an assessment of the economic and performance trade-offs associated with pre-processing options, and the value they may provide compared with more conventional technology improvement approaches.

The project will assess and compare two different bioenergy system approaches – one without any significant pre-processing steps between feedstock production and energy conversion process and one incorporating intermediate pre-processing activities.

These steps may include processes to densify biomass to aid transportation and storage; processes to improve biomass handling; and/or processes to modify the chemical composition of the raw biomass feedstocks.

The project will run in conjunction with another ETI project launched last week to characterise UK grown feedstocks.

Dr Geraint Evans, Programme Manager, Bioenergy at the ETI who is leading the selection process for the project said:

"It is important to further understand how to optimise bioenergy value chains at the system level; this requires an understanding of when pre-processing adds and doesn’t add value. Last week we launched a project to characterise UK grown feedstocks. This new project will work in parallel to that and build a detailed analysis of the system level value of biomass pre-processing activities."