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Hydrogen is a flexible, low-carbon energy vector with potential application to process heat, space heating, transport and power. It therefore features significantly in several prominent net-zero scenarios; in which a range of possible production routes are suggested.

In the presentation, we will focus on the question: “what role should biomass play in delivering hydrogen and negative emissions?” and draw on research conducted across the “Supergen Bioenergy Hub” academic consortium (supergen-bioenergy.net) in order to examine key aspects of the answer. This research includes analysis of existing research and assessments, some primary modelling, and a synthesis of the findings of an expert workshop on this topic that was convened by the Supergen Bioenergy Hub with key stakeholders representing government, industry and academia on 29th Jan 2021.

The most promising biomass feedstocks and processing technologies will be introduced before assessment of their overall potential scale and technical performance is presented, based on research and development conducted by the consortium and partners. This will be synthesised to analyse the lifecycle greenhouse-gas emissions and economic performance that might be achieved by these options.

Crucially however, these technologies must not operate in isolation but be effectively integrated into the wider energy system. This brings challenges and opportunities beyond those for individual options. The availability and cost of alternative sources of low-carbon hydrogen may make other uses for biomass more or less attractive (e.g. co-processing to other vectors). Uncertainty over the available resources may affect the marginal counterfactual hydrogen production routes that biomass might displace. Finally, the development of CCS infrastructure is a key consideration that affects the carbon balance and economics of both biomass and alternative routes to produce hydrogen, but to different extents.

Biomass to hydrogen is a promising option with the potential to deliver a valuable energy vector alongside negative emissions. However, it is the conditions required to achieve this, the implications of doing so and the nuances of alternative options that may be of most interest to anyone considering our path to net-zero emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2021
EventISSST 2021 - International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology -
Duration: 21 Jun 202124 Jun 2021


ConferenceISSST 2021 - International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology


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