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Earth Observation data service provides valuable support for a sustainable biomass industry


Earth Observation data service provides valuable support for a sustainable biomass industry

Business-led consortium addresses biomass ‘carbon impact’ issue

Biomass and bioenergy firms required to certify the origin and sustainability of wood biomass will now have access to more accurate data to support certification thanks to a new project involving Rezatec, a UK-based provider of remote-sensing based environmental data products.

Rezatec has developed a data service that extracts carbon estimates from high-resolution satellite imagery, or Earth Observation (EO) data. This service is designed to accurately measure the carbon impact of producing biomass from forests over extended periods of time.

A business-led consortium involving Rezatec, Drax, E4tech (project lead), and the University of Edinburgh has embarked on a nine-month project to help develop a service that will improve the commercial development of the biomass/energy industry, allowing businesses to prove compliance with sustainability criteria.

Forest carbon estimates

The project will assess the environmental impact of Drax’s wood pellet production from forest feedstock in North America. Using Rezatec’s methodology, optical, RADAR and LiDAR data will be linked with a dynamic tree growth model to help determine forestry carbon estimates.

Patrick Newton, CEO for Rezatec commented: “This pioneering project has the potential to change the future of the biomass and bioenergy industries by overcoming the challenges of obtaining cost-effective and accurate datasets to support sustainable obligations linked to forest biomass feedstock.”

“Working with businesses such as Drax allows us to help verify its carbon impact on the environment of biomass extraction and the positive work it is undertaking to ensure compliance. “This project can be used as a blueprint for sustainable biomass production around the world,” he added.

Nigel Burdett, Head of Environment for Drax said: “Drax Power will only purchase biomass that can be proven to be sustainably produced in accordance with our sustainability policy, and that exceeds thresholds set by the UK Regulatory Authority (Ofgem) for subsidy support.”

“We’re aiming to be the benchmark for knowledge around determining the temporal carbon flow consequences of biomass for energy. This will allow us to contribute positively towards a more ecologically sound environment as well as deliver on energy output requirements,” he continued.

“The use of environmental datasets, which includes accurate, high-resolution, time-based satellite imagery, helps address a specific business issue in the energy sector. As part of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climage Change Renewables Obligation, Drax is required to report on key aspects of biomass supply chains, to ensure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate sustainability.”

Dr Ausilio Bauen, Director of E4tech commented: “E4tech initiated this project as we believe Earth Observation data will be important in determining and monitoring the sustainability of biomass for energy.”

“Together with Rezatec, Drax and the University of Edinburgh we are developing a service that will be critical to the biomass industry in demonstrating its environmental credentials and possibly other sectors”, he added.

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