A GIS based assessment of bioenergy potential in England within existing energy systems

A. Thomas, A. Bond, K. Hiscock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an analysis of the spatial supply and demand relationships for biomass energy potential for England, using Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping techniques. Due to energy use and cost of biomass feedstock transportation, the spatial relationship between potential supply and demand is crucial to efficient usage of this distributed feedstock. Previous studies have identified potential for biomass generation at individual sites, according to local factors dictating viable transport distances and costs. The research presented here necessarily takes a more generalised approach, to allow national scale assessment of capability to meet fixed location demands, and quantify theoretical potential generation under relevant scenarios. The approach is illustrated for England, although techniques are applicable elsewhere when suitable data are available.Mapping for England indicates that of the 2,521,996ha viable for cultivation of Miscanthus, 1,998,435ha are within 25km of the identified potential end uses of feedstock, and 2,409,541ha are within 40km. Potential generation exceeds the 2020 UK biomass generation target of 259PJ, whichever radius is applied. However, predictions assume Miscanthus cultivation at all appropriate sites, and no policy interventions to limit transport distance.Results from national scale analysis may be useful in informing government decisions, for example to identify impacts on total generation potential of incentives affecting decisions on allocation of overlap feedstock. Variation in GHG balance and environmental impacts between cultivation sites creates spatial variation in benefits of bioenergy, which should be taken into account in addition to the spatial relationship between supply and demand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-121
Number of pages15
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • Biomass supply and demand
  • Miscanthus
  • Co-firing
  • Combined heat and power (CHP)
  • District heating
  • Bioenergy

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