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New research identifies drivers and barriers for bioenergy development

23 November 2010

Economic attractiveness, environmental sustainability and technology barriers have been identified as among the most critical factors affecting the success of bioenergy development, according to new research by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre.

The paper published recently in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews identifies the main barriers and drivers of bioenergy projects and the importance of these factors for key stakeholders; farmers and suppliers; developers and owners of bioenergy projects primary end-users of bioenergy and government and policy stakeholders.

The research suggests the most critical barriers and drivers relate to economic factors of bioenergy projects, with the farmers and suppliers and developers most influenced by production costs and benefits. Common drivers for all stakeholders were found to be reducing carbon emissions and the dependency on fossil fuels.

Lead author Paul Adams from the University of Bath, said: "The UK is some way from reaching its bioenergy capacity, nonetheless sustainable bioenergy production is expected to play a key role in achieving EU targets for increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. This research helps identify the main factors which influence the success of a bioenergy project."

He added: "We found that different stakeholder groups have different motivations which should be considered when setting UK bioenergy policy. The main barriers were found to be economic constraints which may be overcome with the right financial support mechanisms. Reducing carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels is the main common driver for all stakeholder groups. Therefore bioenergy schemes must be both economically attractive to all parts of the supply-chain and the net energy and carbon balances must also be proven."


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Charlotte Knight or Dianne Stilwell at or on 020 7594 9730

About BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre

The  BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre represents a £26M investment that increases UK bioenergy research capacity. It brings together 6 world-class research groups. This creates a network with expertise and specialist resources that span the bioenergy pipeline from growing biomass to fermentation for biofuels. The centre's programmes work closely with industrial partners. Ensuring that bioenergy is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable is core to the Centre's programmes. Life cycle analysis embeds this across the portfolio.


The UK Energy Research Centre carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Our interdisciplinary, whole systems research informs UK policy development and research strategy.


BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.