Dr Bernie Bulkin, former Chair of the UK Office of Renewable Energy, has responded to Professor Sir David King's appeal for a "Global Apollo" programme to combat climate change. One of the points he makes is that biomass energy "is very amenable to an Apollo effort" because it "can have such a big impact at scale across different geographies - and it does not need storage". He says there are opportunities for "links to advances in food production and increases in farmers' incomes".
FST Journal (the Journal of The Foundation for Science and Technology), vol 21, no 6, July 2015, http://www.foundation.org.uk/Journal/pdf/fst_21_06.pdf.
Norwich can play its part in such a global programme through Generation Park Norwich. Besides the established technology of direct combustion of straw for generating electricity and heat for a district heating network, there will be a much smaller straw gasification developmental unit. The proven technology will be developed by Royal Dahlman in collaboration with the Energy Centre of the Netherlands.
The type of research and development proposed by Generation Park Norwich around this biomass gasification unit could lead to global advances in low carbon energy supply. Furthermore, biomass energy also has the potential to go carbon negative with advances in carbon utilisation and storage.
The importance of lower carbon energy has again been highlighted in the new with the world’s climate scientists confidently predicting that 2015 will be the planet’s hottest year since instruments started to reliably record global temperatures. Even though there are more than three months of 2015 to go.
On time-scales of a few years there is natural variability in the Earth system, especially related to the connections between the atmosphere and oceans. One of these is the El Nino Southern Oscillation which is in a strong atmosphere-warming phase at the moment, but the underlying global trend is upwards, consistent with the expected effect of increasing concentrations of global warming gases in the atmosphere, the most important of which is carbon dioxide. This is why the trailblazing integrated low carbon initiative proposed for Generation Park Norwich is such an important initiative for tackling these issues.