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University of Cambridge wholeSEM group publish report on UK land use and bioenergy production

29 June 2016

Copyright David B Gleeson available on Flickr

June 2016

How much bioenergy feedstock can be grown sustainably in the UK?

Modelling energy systems - How much bioenergy feedstock can be grown sustainably in the UK?

Members of wholeSEM's Cambridge team have produced a new report looking at the potential contribution of domestic bioenergy feedstock to future energy supply and planning.

The report suggests that it should be possible to commit up to 900,000 hectares to bioenergy feedstock production in the UK without undue land stress, with limited impact on biodiversity and a net benefit in reducing GHG emissions. However, the question of whether the UK will develop bioenergy production up to this level depends on a combination of government and business actions and on the farmers’ perceptions of longterm policy, subsidies or contracts. Additionally there is a need for in-depth field observations that provide evidence of the environmental benefits and other negative impacts that could result from deploying bioenergy at this scale. Policy discussions and future development of energy models should in future address the physical constraints on total land commitment in the UK, a wider range of sustainability criteria in the assessment of impacts of bioenergy production, uncertainty about the consequences of UK imports, and the requirements for long-term incentives to drive significant change in agricultural practice.

The report presents the outcome of the wholeSEM UK Land Energy NexuS (LENS) workshop. The workshop brought together 40 stakeholders involved in bioenergy and natural resource management from research, academia, industry, agriculture, civil society groups and
government agencies.

As part of the wholeSEM project, our Cambridge team are building a resource simulation model (UK Foreseer) and adding land, water and critical materials flows to understand trade-offs and constraints.

Further Information:
Modelling energy systems - How much bioenergy feedstock can be grown sustainably in the UK? (PDF file)
wholeSEM Work Package 5 - Environmental and Economic Impacts
The Use Less Group