A sustainability framework for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technologies

Nasim Pour, Paul A. Webley, Peter J. Cook

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) involves the conversion of biomass to energy, producing CO2 which is sequestered, transported and then permanently stored in a suitable geological formation. Thus, a negative flow of CO2 from the atmosphere to the subsurface is established. The potential of BECCS to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (in addition to generating energy) makes it an attractive approach to help achieving the ambitious global warming targets of COP 21. BECCS has a range of variables such as the type of biomass resource, the conversion technology, the CO2capture process used and storage options. Each of the pathways to connect these options has its own environmental, economic and social impacts. This study attempts to integrate these impacts into a three pillar sustainability framework (3PSF) approach. As an example, the 3PSF approach is applied to bioenergy from organic waste collected from municipal solid waste (MSW). Global and Australian potentials for using municipal solid waste as resource for bioenergy and coupling it with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), was investigated. Two BECCS systems, municipal solid waste incineration with carbon capture and storage (MSW-CCS) and landfill gas combusted in gas turbine with carbon capture and storage (LFG-CCS) were modelled. In the case of business-as-usual scenarios with no emission policy in place, the cost of electricity from both BECCS options is higher than for unmitigated coal power generation. However, introducing renewable energy certificate or negative emission refunding schemes has a significant impact on the economic viability of these technologies. Environmental impact assessments show that in the MSW-CCS model, for each kg of wet MSW incinerated around 0.7 kg CO2,eq is removed from the atmosphere. BECCS has the potential to be a valuable step towards a low-carbon energy system. However, if planned unsustainably it could compromise the natural ecosystem and social equity. The importance of the presented study is in its holistic approach to assessing the sustainability of different BECCS routes and providing a comprehensive adaptive management system that enables decision-makers to plan BECCS options in a transparent and timely manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6044-6056
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cost of Electricty
  • LCA
  • LFG
  • MSW
  • Negative Emission
  • Sustainablility

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