Why perennial biomass crops? 

Perennial biomass crops such as Miscanthus and willow can be grown on land less suited to food production. We can then burn these crops in power stations to produce renewable electricity. The carbon dioxide taken up by the plants as they grow is released back into the atmosphere during combustion. However, if we install carbon capture and storage infrastructure on power stations we can remove this carbon from the atmosphere permanently, using plants as a ‘carbon conveyor’ in a process known as Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). Climate Change Committee analysis predicts that 62% of the annual negative emissions required in 2040 will be provided by BECCS.   

Objectives

Combatting climate change requires drastic reductions in emissions, but also the direct removal for carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Plants have been doing this for millions of years, and we are seeking to capitalise on this and store the carbon in a safe and permanent way.

Our Approach

We are:
•    Demonstrating novel establishment techniques for both crops to maximise yield whilst                        minimising greenhouse gas emissions
•    Investigating the long term impacts on soil carbon for both crops by re-sampling historic sites           for soil carbon.
•    Researching the scope for increasing carbon sequestration in Miscanthus by investigating                  genotypic variation in root traits and phytolith biology. 
•    Updating and refining the quantification of overall GGR potential of Miscanthus and wil-low.
•    Understanding the conditions required for farmer uptake and wider societal acceptance
•    Investigating the costs, benefits and trade offs for biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
•    Together with other GGR projects we will determine the appropriate scale of implementa-tion        of BECCS in the UK compared to other GGR approaches. 
 

Principal Investigator

Prof Iain Donnison, IBERS, Aberystwyth University

Research team / project partners
Rothamsted Research

UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Countryside and Community Research Institute

University of Aberdeen