Evaluating biomass energy strategies for a UK eco-town

After nearly 18 months in review, our Biomass and Bioenergy paper is now out:

Recent years have shown a marked interest in the construction of eco-towns, showcase developments intended to demonstrate the best in ecologically-sensitive and energy-efficient construction. This paper examines one such development in the UK and considers the role of biomass energy systems. We present an integrated resource modelling framework that identifies an optimized low-cost energy supply system including the choice of conversion technologies, fuel sources, and distribution networks. Our analysis shows that strategies based on imported wood chips, rather than locally converted forestry residues, burned in a mix of ICE and ORC combined heat and power facilities offer the most promise. While there are uncertainties surrounding the precise environmental impacts of these solutions, it is clear that such biomass systems can help eco-towns to meet their target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is primarily an application paper, but it does demonstrate the value of incorporating spatial and temporal dynamics within urban energy systems. Biomass feedstocks for example can be stored between seasons, depending on availability and price, and the resulting district heat will have losses as its transported around the city. There’s plenty of scope for expanding this type of model too, in particular to look at local air pollution impacts rather than just greenhouse gas emissions.

ResearchBlogging.orgKeirstead, J., Samsatli, N., Pantaleo, A., & Shah, N. (2012). Evaluating biomass energy strategies for a UK eco-town with an MILP optimization model Biomass and Bioenergy DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2012.01.022