Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)

9 Mar 2020 12:42 PM

According to global climate and economic models, removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will be necessary to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. Among Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) techniques, these models assume that Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) could play a prominent role. This POSTnote summarises why BECCS has been included in the models, outlines the challenges and trade-offs of deploying at scale, and considers policy options for supporting its development.

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Key points 

Evidence from global models of the climate, economy, energy and land use systems – Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) – suggest that some level of Greenhouse Gas Removal is needed to achieve this Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming to well below 2˚C.  

Estimates of the mitigation potential of BECCS within IAMs vary considerably. There are a number of potential challenges associated with the widespread use of BECCS, primarily around scale and land availability. Robust governance frameworks, which ensure transparency and sustainability, would be required. In addition, there are risks relying on the technology for future mitigation future when significant uncertainties currently exist around its cost and its potential to achieve negative emissions. 

Estimates by the Committee on Climate Change suggest that the UK mitigation potential of BECCS ranges from 20 to 51 MtCO2 (equivalent to 5-14% of UK CO2 emissions at 2018 levels). Suggested UK policy approaches to supporting BECCS’ development could include integrating BECCS into carbon markets such as the EU ETS, supporting pilot and demonstration schemes, and investing in CCS infrastructures. 

Acknowledgements

POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders, and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including: 

(* indicates contributors who reviewed the note)