Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS): Finding the win–wins for energy, negative emissions and ecosystem services—size matters

Caspar Donnison, Robert A. Holland, Astley Hastings, Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, Felix Eigenbrod, Gail Taylor* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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39 Citations (Scopus)
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Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) features heavily in the energy scenarios designed to meet the Paris Agreement targets, but the models used to generate these scenarios do not address environmental and social implications of BECCS at the regional scale. We integrate ecosystem service values into a land-use optimization tool to determine the favourability of six potential UK locations for a 500 MW BECCS power plant operating on local biomass resources. Annually, each BECCS plant requires 2.33 Mt of biomass and generates 2.99 Mt CO2 of negative emissions and 3.72 TWh of electricity. We make three important discoveries: (a) the impacts of BECCS on ecosystem services are spatially discrete, with the most favourable locations for UK BECCS identified at Drax and Easington, where net annual welfare values (from the basket of ecosystems services quantified) of £39 and £25 million were generated, respectively, with notably lower annual welfare values at Barrow (−£6 million) and Thames (£2 million); (b) larger BECCS deployment beyond 500 MW reduces net social welfare values, with a 1 GW BECCS plant at Drax gene rating a net annual welfare value of £19 million (a 50% decline compared withthe 500 MW deployment), and a welfare loss at all other sites; (c) BECCS can be deployed to generate net welfare gains, but trade-offs and co-benefits between ecosystem services are highly site and context specific, and these landscape-scale, site-specific impacts should be central to future BECCS policy developments. For the United Kingdom, meeting the Paris Agreement targets through reliance on BECCS
requires over 1 GW at each of the six locations considered here and is likely, therefore, to result in a significant welfare loss. This implies that an increased number of smaller BECCS deployments will be needed to ensure a win–win for energy, negative emissions and ecosystem services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-604
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Change Biology. Bioenergy
Issue number8
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding information
Natural Environment Research Council, Grant/Award Number: NE/M019764/1

This work was supported by the NERC-funded UK Energy Research Centre, by the NERC project Addressing the Valuation of Energy and Nature Together (ADVENT, NE/M019764/1) and by The University of California, Davis with CD the recipient of a NERC PhD studentship (1790094). It also contributed to the NERC FAB-GGR project (NE/M019691/1).


  • bioenergy crops
  • carbon capture and storage
  • climate change
  • ecosystem service
  • land use change
  • negative emissions
  • trade-offs
  • land-use change


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