The potential contribution of bioenergy to Scotland’s energy system

Bioenergy already contributes to energy supply in Scotland, meeting an estimated 4.4% of final energy demand in 2016.  This has been achieved through a number of bioenergy conversion technologies utilising a range of bioresources.

The Scottish Energy Strategy, published in December 2017, sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for a flourishing, competitive energy sector, delivering secure, affordable, clean energy for Scotland’s households, communities and businesses. The Strategy sets out the ambition for 50% of all energy consumed in Scotland to come from renewable sources by 2030. One of the actions to achieve this is developing a bioenergy action plan.

This study forms one of the first steps in developing the bioenergy action plan, setting out an evidence base on the nature and quantities of biological resources within Scotland that could be used for bioenergy, and the conversion technologies that could be deployed to utilise them.

Main findings:
  • Bioresources equivalent to 6.7 TWh per year (in primary energy terms) are currently used for bioenergy purposes. Just over three-quarters of this is wood.
  • Increasing the contribution that bioenergy makes by 2030 would require additional bioenergy plant to be built and deployed within the next decade.
  • Based on typical capital, operating and feedstock costs, all of the bioenergy conversion technologies considered produce energy or fuel at a price that is higher than that produced by conventional technologies, based on current fossil fuel prices.
  • Estimates of domestic bioresources suggest that several additional anaerobic digestion plant are technically feasible, but utilising the resource fully is likely to require the use of a mixture of feedstocks in some plant.
  • Advanced conversion technologies such as gasification for power or to produce synthetic natural gas and advanced biofuels production could be commercially proven by 2030.
  • Allowing for competing uses of some bioresources in other sectors of the economy, there is another 5.3 TWh per year (of primary energy), that is currently not collected or is disposed of as waste, that could potentially be utilised for bioenergy.
  • By 2030, further bioresources equivalent to 2 TWh per year (of primary energy) could be available.