This PhD will be based within the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, and will be part of the UK Supergen Bioenergy Hub research network. There will also be opportunities to work with leading industry partners in the UK bioenergy & BECCS sector.
More than 85% of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) scenarios for achieving the emissions targets of the ‘Paris Agreement’ are reliant on an ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is currently expected to be the primary technology for achieving this. BECCS processes generate energy and then capture the CO2 that is release through combustion of biomass - permanent storing of this CO2 will result in net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. However, BECCS technologies are not commercially established and there remain many uncertainties about how to produce sufficient sustainable biomass to support its deployment at scale. BECCS could be critical to limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5C, as agreed in Paris in 2015. This highly topical PhD will contribute to improving our understanding of the viability and efficacy of the BECCS approach.
The widespread sourcing of forest-based materials for bioenergy is now a well-established pathway for large scale bioenergy generation in the UK. However, any large-scale deployment of BECCS technologies will mean that further feedstocks will be required at a correspondingly large scale. It is essential that these feedstocks are sourced sustainably and that, ultimately, BECCS pathways deliver net negative emissions.
This project will analyse the potential for developing large scale BECCS in the UK using biomass feedstocks derived from waste and residues from agricultural or industrial sectors. Proposed research themes include: i) mapping biomass resource availability; developing biomass resource supply chain & BECCS technology scenarios; iii) analysing the bioenergy potential for large scale BECCS deployment in the UK, iv) evaluating the levels of net negative emissions that may be achieved, and v) identifying the potential challenges & opportunities of large scale deployment of BECCS.
Interest in developing and testing BECCS technologies is increasing and the Tyndall Centre and the Supergen Bioenergy Hub have established links with the UK energy sector and industrial partners. The project will benefit from interaction with a key industrial partner currently exploring the potential of expanding its biomass feedstock supply chains based on UK and international wastes and residues.
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