An Interdisciplinary Assessment of Biogas Production and the Bioenergy Potential within the South West of England

  • William Mezzullo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


There is a growing need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy. A twofold reason exists for this: firstly these resources are finite; secondly the utilisation of these resources releases greenhouse gases which are known to contribute towards climate change. The rise in global population and energy use per person is adding to the unsustainable use of fossil fuels. There is the potential to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the South West of England. The region’s abundant natural resources could be used to reduce the overreliance on energy from fossil fuels. A key natural and renewable resource within the region is the availability of biomass. Bioenergy is a form of energy, derived from biomass. Bioenergy has the capability to displace the use of fossil fuels. Additionally, it has the potential to reduce the effect of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide during the biomass production period. It has the possibility of being integrated into existing infrastructure and is one of the few renewable technologies which can satisfy an array of end-use energy requirements. This thesis highlights a unique method of assessing the potential of bioenergy in the South West of England using a multi appraisal technique. The initial assessment within this thesis has examined the resource availability of bioenergy based on biomass feedstock. Whilst quantifying the overall availability, constraints have been examined to determine the realisable potential of biomass as an energy source. The analysis has then assessed the drivers and barriers of bioenergy development within the region and contextualised this for the UK in general. Following the selection of a single bioenergy pathway (biogas production from anaerobic digestion), the technology has been assessed using a multi appraisal methodology. This methodology has involved the use of net-energy analysis, environmental life cycle assessment and financial investment assessments. The thesis demonstrates that the region has a notable resource availability of biomass. However, a number of barriers to development have been found which could impede the utilisation of this energy source. The selected bioenergy pathway of biogas from anaerobic digestion was found to eliminate some of these barriers. Assessing the potential of biogas using multi appraisal techniques highlighted that this pathway could, in some cases, offer positive environmental, energy and financial benefits.
Date of Award1 Jul 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMarcelle McManus (Supervisor) & Geoff Hammond (Supervisor)


  • biogas
  • bioenergy

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