In March 2022 the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and its partners (Sciencewise and UKRI) commissioned a public dialogue to explore public views toward the uses and implications of biomass and BECCS (Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage), to support policy development and inform future engagement. This project is set to run until autumn 2022.
As a department, BEIS’ responsibilities include energy, clean growth and climate change. In order to meet its responsibilities in these areas, BEIS delivers policies on renewable energy and energy security, and heat and industrial decarbonisation. Biomass has a role to play in all of these areas, and as a result BEIS is leading on the development of a cross-government Biomass Strategy which is due to be published in late 2022.
At present there is a gap in detailed public dialogue and engagement on biomass and BECCS which has meant that the deeper views of participants are not currently comprehensively captured or understood. Further public engagement and dialogue is required to better understand public views about uses of biomass and associated technologies so the public voice can be integrated into the development of the Biomass Strategy.
The intention is that the findings of this dialogue will feed into a number of areas being developed as part of the Biomass Strategy, such as the Common Sustainability Framework, as well as inform future plans for public engagement.
NatCen Social Research (NatCen) will deliver the public dialogue in partnership with Eunomia. Around 100 participants from across the UK will be involved in a number of online workshops for the project, as well as a range of stakeholders that will take part in interviews and workshops. These stakeholders will help to inform the development of the online workshops.
The dialogue sets out to draw conclusions based on an understanding of the following research questions:
- What are participants’ views on sourcing and uses of biomass across different sectors of the economy (such as transport, land-use, agriculture, energy and heat) in the context of achieving net zero?
- What are the values or perspectives that underpin participant views and concerns on biomass?
- What governance, regulation and criteria do participants want in place to ensure that any sourcing (both domestic and imported) and use of biomass in the UK, including for BECCS, is sustainable?
- How does certain information about biomass and BECCS impact on participants’ views?
- What features (safety, security etc) would a converted biomass power plant with BECCS need, or what benefits could it bring (e.g. jobs, investment etc), for communities to support development in their own local area?
- What areas do participants wish for more information on in relation to biomass and BECCS/what areas are there knowledge gaps for participants?