We started the New Year with an exciting talk about the future potential of bioenergy from Dr Antonio Marco Pantaleo.
Dr Pantaleo is a research associate at Imperial College London, who researches in spatially explicit models and optimization tools to integrate bioenergy into urban energy systems. His interests in strategic and operational optimization of district heating and natural gas network, as well as thermo-economic assessment of biomass and natural gas based micro combined heat and power really shone throughout his interactive lecture.
Bioenergy is bio-based material for energy. It consists of processed biomass which is then upgraded to biofuels. Its conversion system in urban setting and its life cycle analysis were the key focuses of the event. The biggest challenges that bioenergy faces are ones that concern its power systems, in particular its efficiency. Dr Pantaleo showed us how there is a high investment cost associated with bioenergy power systems. Although biomass is normally cheaper than its counterpart natural gas, the economies of scale become a more prominent issue. There is not enough biomass to feed large power plants. Therefore on a larger scale it is advisable to combine biomass energy with natural gas. Although smaller scale system production is better for biomass because of its high investment cost, this is still difficult to implement. What is clear: The future of the energy sector will likely face drastic changes.
If you would like to have a more detailed overview of Marco’s lecture, you can check out his presentations slides here.
We are extremely grateful for Dr Pantaleo’s time to come speak to us about biofuels. It was no doubt a fantastic way to start 2016.