Biomass Feedstocks

Bioenergy is an essential part of the bioeconomy and competes with other end use applications for biomass resource. In the UK, bioenergy accounts for only a small proportion of total biomass resource use and will only be one of several drivers of growth in the bioeconomy which is developing globally, reducing reliance on fossil-fuels and improving sustainability across all sectors.

A range of feedstocks, both domestic and imported, can be utilised in a variety of processes and technologies of varying maturities. Options range from domestic-scale biomass boilers producing heat; to energy from waste (EfW), dedicated biomass combustion or co-firing in large existing power-stations to generate electricity; to much more advanced technologies that are not yet commercialised such as the conversion of a syngas (produced from gasification) to hydrogen. 

Renewable Energy

Within the energy system, bioenergy, while being by far the largest renewable source of energy, still meets only a small share of primary energy demand. In 2014 the UK’s primary energy demand was 2,342TWh; 7% of this was supplied by UK renewables of which over two thirds was from bioenergy. Over half of this was supplied as electricity, a fifth was supplied as heat, an eighth as transport fuel and the remainder as other bioenergy (incl. biomethane).  ‚Äč

The largest bioenergy sector is bioelectricity that produced over 17.5 TWh in 2014.  This supports around half of the input feedstock supply by energy (around 10 million tonnes of feedstock) and a large proportion of this has been met from imports which are able to supply high volumes of feedstock at competitive prices. 

Conversely, the biomass heat sector as a consequence of more efficient conversion technologies and less established end use markets, uses around 1.25 million tonnes of wood pellets and chips annually, with the smaller scale nature of facilities supporting local biomass feedstock supply.

Heat from biogas combustion and biomethane is also on the increase with the former being combusted on-site for own-use or local distribution, and the latter being fed into the national gas distribution network and mixed with natural gas for use in gas-fired appliances and industrial processes nationally. 

Value Chain

The bioenergy value chain is complex, with a matrix of potential inputs and outputs, derived through a wide range of technologies, owned and operated by different types of individuals and organisations, and incentivised by a multitude of support mechanisms. 

NNFCC Support

NNFCC supports developers, investors and policy makers with interests in the bioenergy sector to strategically plan and develop robust supply chains, maximising returns from the complex matrix of financial incentives that are available whilst also ensuring sustainability criteria are met.

Below are a list of relevant projects NNFCC has delivered in this sector. 

For reports and our monthly review of news from the bioenergy sector, see our publications store.