Researchers at University of Gloucestershire are part of a research consortium in a major government-funded drive to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
As part of a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment of £30 million over four-and-a-half years, researchers at University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) will participate in a research project to develop biomass crops.
The project will be demonstrating the latest technologies for planting willow and Miscanthus, the two perennial biomass crops that are best suited to UK conditions. The CCRI researchers will be looking specifically at the socio-economic barriers and incentives for increasing biomass crop production in relation to growers/farmers and the wider community.
The work will be undertaken in collaboration with Aberystwyth University, as the lead partner, Aberdeen and Rothamsted Research, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and key energy crop growers.
The research also involves new field trials at Bishop Burton College, Lincolnshire and Myerscough College, Lancashire.
Both crops grow well on land that is less suited to food production, and can be harvested every one to three years.
Since they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, they are regarded as a renewable and low carbon source of electricity.
The team will also undertake detailed measurements of carbon flows in order to more accurately account for this carbon.
Professor Julie Ingram, who will be leading CCRI’s contribution to the project, University of Gloucestershire, said:
“We are very excited to be a part of this major project to demonstrate the potential of biomass crops. Farmers have a unique role to play in managing the land to absorb carbon emissions and this project aims to understand what conditions enable them to produce these crops, as well as their wider societal acceptance.”
Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, commented:
“It’s a great privilege to have been selected to take a leading role in this very important investment in efforts to tackle climate change. The project we lead, along with the others, will make important contributions to meeting the net zero climate targets which are so vital to the protecting the future of our planet”.
The overall investment by UK Research and Innovation is the largest programme to assess Greenhouse Gas Removal methods funded by the UK government to date.
Greenhouse Gas Removal describes a range of technologies to directly remove CO2 from the atmosphere, that aim to counteract human-caused climate change by deliberate large-scale intervention.
The results will be used to shape longer-term government decision-making on the most effective technologies to help tackle climate change and reduce CO2 emissions in order to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
A key feature of the investment is to fund both individual projects, and a ‘Hub’ that specifically addresses the importance of economic and social factors, and how this impacts on future policy.
The £31.5 million programme is part of the second wave of the Government’s Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), which invests in high quality multi and interdisciplinary research.
This is the largest programme to assess greenhouse gas removal methods funded by the UK government, through UKRI, to date.
Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UKRI, said:
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a priority for the UK, but it’s clear that alone that will not be enough to reduce CO2 and meet the UK’s net zero climate target by 2050.
“These projects will investigate how we can actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere using innovative technologies at the scale required to protect our planet. This investment by UKRI is especially significant as the UK prepares to host COP26 in Glasgow later this year.”
Details of the project:
Perennial Biomass Crops for Greenhouse Gas Removal (PBC4GGR)
Professor Julie Ingram, Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire.
This project will address the technical and social barriers to the rapid scale-up of the perennial bioenergy crops, Miscanthus and short rotation coppice willow to support the implementation of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) in the UK.
Alongside existing field trials, new field trials will be developed at Bishop Burton College, Yorkshire and Myerscough College, Lancashire.
Research Team: The work will be led by the Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in collaboration with Aberdeen and Gloucestershire University, Rothamsted Research, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and project partners representing the key energy crop growers in the UK.
About UK Research and Innovation
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK, with a budget of over £8bn. It is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.
Julie Ingram, CCRI, University of Gloucestershire