As part of its wider research into heat decarbonisation, BEIS commissioned Ecofys and E4Tech to assess the impact that innovation could have on the development of technologies and feedstocks for biomass heating.
This project identifies actions needed to drive technology and feedstock options where innovation could make the biggest difference to their potential to decarbonise heat to 2050. The following technologies or feedstocks were selected on the basis of their potential contribution to decarbonisation of heat, and the potential for innovation to have a significant impact on their costs, supply potential or sustainability characteristics:
- the gasification of biomass or waste to produce methane (termed bio synthetic natural gas, or bioSNG), which could be injected into the gas grid. This is at an early stage of commercialisation and has significant potential for improvements in cost reduction and performance through activities which support the scale up and deployment of multiple plants
- the gasification of biomass or waste to produce hydrogen, which could be injected into the gas grid. This is at an early stage of commercialisation and has high potential if the gas grid is repurposed for hydrogen, but requires proof of concept in conjunction with carbon capture in order to deliver the greatest carbon benefits
- innovative pre-treatment technologies which could improve performance and economics of thermochemical and anaerobic digestion routes, but whose benefits have yet to be fully demonstrated
- woody and grassy energy crops, which have significant potential but currently have very limited planting in the UK, could benefit from a range of agronomic and plant breeding programmes which realise significant potential increases in yield and high sustainability benefits