Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
BECCS advocates claim it is a negative emissions technology – but it is unproven at scale and puts nature at risk.
What is BECCS?
Despite warnings it damages nature and climate, biomass burning expanded rapidly in the last decade and governments are looking to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to meet climate targets.
Supporters claim BECCS can capture carbon dioxide released during biomass burning and store it deep underground, with more trees taking in carbon to create 'negative emissions'. But it is unproven and similar experiments with fossil fuels failed.
Bioenergy is considered renewable because trees can be re-planted as seedlings.
BECCS is lauded as carbon negative but government climate models are flawed. As well as ignoring emissions from burning the biomass itself, missed ‘uncapturable’ supply chain emissions include soil carbon released when trees are harvested plus the lost potential for mature trees to capture large amounts of carbon.
Despite high growth rates, new saplings cannot capture as much carbon as the harvested older tree for several decades.
BECCS could harm nature
Most biomass processed in UK plants comes from trees in North America and eastern Europe, posing a huge risk to the wildlife that live in these forests.
Large scale BECCS would destroy more forest or convert vast swathes of land to energy crops. This means extra pesticides, fertilisers and water, and substantial emissions. There is no alternative to protecting and restoring nature and cutting emissions as fast as possible.