TSEC-Biosys: A whole systems approach to bioenergy demand and supply
A project funded under the Towards a Sustainable Energy Economy (TSEC) initiative

Welcome to the TSEC-Biosys Project Website


The TSEC BIOSYS project was funded in 2005 by NERC, under the principle of 'whole-systems analysis'. It brought together a multi-disciplinary team with strong expertise in bioenergy research, to explore the potential of bioenergy in the UK and to influence its successful development. TSEC BIOSYS research explored: sectoral bioenergy demand in the UK; the spatial distribution of energy crops in the UK under current and future climates; specific supply chain costs and environmental issues and impacts and stakeholder concerns. The project reviewed and mapped the policy landscape, and is developing narratives describing the sector's evolution and prospects. These narratives explore the differing perspectives of key actors across the range of supply chains and their responses to different bioenergy futures. BIOSYS research has also developed and enriched the bioenergy/biofuels supply chains and data in the UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre) MARKAL modelling of UK energy scenarios. The project developed continuing research relationships with UK and international bioenergy research consortia, including SUPERGEN Bioenergy, RELU Biomass and the UKERC bioenergy roadmap.

The three main achievements of the TSEC-BIOSYS consortium have been: to develop a framework for whole systems analysis; to address key cross-cutting research issues affecting bioenergy; and to carry out multi-disciplinary research leading to the construction and interrogation of credible scenarios for the development of the sector. In the course of their work, the BIOSYS partners developed modelling tools with interfaces that allowed data and analytical exchanges across research teams and disciplines. BIOSYS research is yielding valuable insights into key issues for bioenergy in the UK. Initial outputs are accessible in peer reviewed publications, listed below, and have been presented in national and international forums.

Key Issues and Current Publications

How much biomass do we have?

  • Aylott M., Casella E., Tubby I., Street N.R., Smith P. & Taylor G. (2008). Yield and spatial supply of bioenergy poplar and willow short rotation coppice in the UK. New Phytologist (in press).
  • G. M. Richter, A. B. Riche, A. G. Dailey, S. A. Gezan & D. S. Powlson. Is UK fuel supply from Miscanthus water- limited? Soil Use and Management, September 2008, 24, 235245 , doi: 10.1111/j.1475-2743.2008.00156.x
  • Sherrington, C., Bartley, J. & Moran, D. (2008) Farm-level constraints on the domestic supply of perennial energy crops in the UK. Energy Policy, Volume 36, Issue 7, July 2008, Pages 2504-2512 , doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.03.004
  • S A Gezan and A B Riche . Over-winter yield decline in Switchgrass and Miscanthus. Aspects of applied biology 90, 2008 in press.
  • A B Riche, S A Gezan and N. Yates. An empirical model for switchgrass to predict yield from site and climatic variables. Aspects of applied biology 90, 2008 in press.
  • A B Riche, N E Yates and D G Christian Performance of 15 different Miscanthus species and genotypes over 11 years. Aspects of applied biology 90, 2008 in press.

How are the resources, costs and demand distributed?

  • Dunnett, Alex J.; Shah, Nilay. Prospects for Bioenergy. Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy, Volume 1, Number 1, April 2007 , pp. 1-18(18)
  • A. Dunnett, C. Adjiman, and N. Shah. Biomass to heat supply chains: Applications of process optimization. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 85(5): 2007, pp. 419-429
  • Alex J. Dunnett, Claire S. Adjiman, and Nilay Shah. A spatially explicit whole-system model of the lignocellulosic bioethanol supply chain: an assessment of decentralised processing potential. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 1(13), 2008. Online access only: www.biotechnologyforbiofuels.com/content/1/1/13

What are the major sustainability impacts and how do they constrain supply?

  • Rebecca L. Rowe, Nathaniel R. Street and Gail Taylor. 2009. Identifying potential environmental impacts of large-scale deployment of dedicated bioenergy crops in the UK. 2009. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13, 271-290, doi:10.1016/j.rser.2007.07.008
  • St Clair, S., Hiller, J. & Smith, P. 2008. Estimating the pre-harvest greenhouse gas costs of energy crop production. Biomass & Bioenergy, Volume 35, Issue 5, Pages 442- 452, doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2007.11.001
  • Hillier J, Hawes C, Squire G, Hilton A, Wale S, Smith P. 2008. The Carbon Footprints of Food Crop Production, submitted to International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. In Press.
  • Patterson, T.; Esteves, S.; Dinsdale, R. Review of Energy Balances and Emissions Associated with Biomass-Based Transport Fuels Relevant to the United Kingdom Context. Energy & Fuels; 2008; 22(5); 3506-3512.

Where can we use the available biomass?

  • Jablonski S, Pantaleo A, Bauen A, Pearson P, Panoutsou C, Slade R. (2007). The potential demand for bioenergy in residential heating applications (bio-heat) in the UK based on a market segment analysis. Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 32, Issue 7, Pages 635- 653, doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2007.12.013
  • Miles Perry and Frank Rosillo-Calle (2008). Recent trends and future opportunities in UK bioenergy: Maximising biomass penetration in a centralised energy system. Biomass & Bioenergy, Volume 32, Issue 8, Pages 688-701, doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2008.01.004.

How can policy influence future uptake?

  • R. Slade, C. Panoutsou and A.Bauen. Reconciling bio-energy policy and delivery in the UK: will UK policy initiatives lead to increased deployment? Biomass & Bioenergy (In press).

TSEC-Biosys is funded under the Towards a Sustainable Economy (TSEC) Initiative and runs in parallel to the activities of the UK Energy Research Centre. TSEC-Biosys is coordinated by Imperial College. Please contact Peter Pearson (Principal Investigator) for further details.


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