Research reveals the most critical barriers and drivers relate to economic factors of bioenergy projects.

Economic attractiveness and environmental sustainability have been identified as the most critical factors affecting the success of bioenergy development, according to new research by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre.

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The paper ‘Barriers to and drivers for UK bioenergy development’ published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, examines the factors that affect the growth and production of bioenergy and looks at how important they are to the different stakeholder groups involved.

The research team, led by Paul Adams at the University of Bath, carried out a comprehensive literature and case study review to identify the main barriers and drivers of bioenergy projects. They then assessed the importance of these factors to four different stakeholder groups: farmers and suppliers; developers and owners of bioenergy projects primary end-users of bioenergy and government and policy stakeholders.

The results, presented via a series of ‘spider web’ diagrams, reveal the most critical barriers and drivers relate to economic factors of bioenergy projects, with the groups of farmers and suppliers and developers most influenced by production costs and benefits. Primary end-users were concerned mainly with the cost of purchasing energy resources.

Overall, the main barriers to bioenergy projects were identified as:

· Financial problems during operation and lifespan of plant

· Increased transport around bioenergy plants

· Local planning approval

· Location of bioenergy plant – visual impacts

· Mistrust between local community, developers and agencies; and the credibility of the developer

· Other environmental impacts, e.g. odours, noise etc

· Technical problems associated with conversion techniques

Common drivers for all stakeholders were found to be reducing carbon emissions and the dependency on fossil fuels.

Lead author Paul Adams comments: “The UK is some way from reaching its bioenergy capacity, nonetheless sustainable bioenergy production is expected to play a key role in achieving EU targets for increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. This research helps identify the main factors which influence the success of a bioenergy project.”

He adds: “We found that different stakeholder groups have different motivations which should be considered when setting UK bioenergy policy. The main barriers were found to be economic constraints which may be overcome with the right financial support mechanisms. Reducing carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels is the main common driver for all stakeholder groups. Therefore bioenergy schemes must be both economically attractive to all parts of the supply-chain and the net energy and carbon balances must also be proven.”

Download the paper at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2010.09.039

About UKERC
The UK Energy Research Centre carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Our interdisciplinary, whole systems research informs UK policy development and research strategy. www.ukerc.ac.uk

About BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre
The BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre represents a £26M investment that increases UK bioenergy research capacity. It brings together 6 world-class research groups. This creates a network with expertise and specialist resources that span the bioenergy pipeline from growing biomass to fermentation for biofuels. The centre’s programmes work closely with industrial partners. Ensuring that bioenergy is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable is core to the Centre’s programmes. Life cycle analysis embeds this across the portfolio.

About BBSRC
BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

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