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ETI selects North Energy Associates to lead new bioenergy project on GHG emissions

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has appointed North Energy Associates (NEA) to lead a new Carbon Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Evidence Analysis project in its bioenergy programme.

Sheffield-based NEA is a low carbon energy consultancy who specialises in conducting LCAs, particularly relating to bioenergy, biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials. They will work with partners Forest Research and the NNFCC on the seven month project which will see the ETI invest £160,000.

The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK government.

LCAs are used to understand the greenhouse gas emissions associated with bioenergy from across the supply chain, from feedstock production to energy production. Several different methodologies can be used in LCAs and this new ETI project will assess the strengths and weaknesses associated with applying these methodologies to bioenergy value chains.

It will also review sources of data for LCAs and produce a compendium of the best and most reliable data across different UK-relevant bioenergy feedstocks and value chains. This compendium will form the basis of a series of carbon balance calculations across a range of bioenergy value chains so that emissions from different feedstocks can be compared.

Andrew Thomas, project manager for Bioenergy at the ETI, said: “ETI analysis of the UK’s future energy system has consistently shown that bioenergy should play a major part in cost-effectively helping the UK meet its legally binding 2050 greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“LCAs help us to understand exactly what emissions are associated with producing bioenergy which is crucial to ensure that it delivers genuine carbon savings.

“It is important to all ensure that biomass feedstocks are produced sustainably and deliver genuine carbon savings.

“This project will bring together data and information from existing studies, enabling the project team to develop a compendium of the most reliable data to produce carbon balance calculations which are comparable across different bioenergy feedstocks.”

Nigel Mortimer, North Energy Associates director & project manager, said: “This is a particularly timely project given the recent international agreement and national commitments to achieving urgent and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst excesses of global climate change.

“Through their essential characteristics, diverse forms of bioenergy offer real opportunities for implementing practical mitigation measures on a national and global scale, but only if their potential benefits, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions savings, can be proven.

“Correctly formulated and applied, the well-established technique of life cycle assessment is the means to evaluate the prospects for bioenergy in an objective, thorough and robust manner.”