New UKRI SPF Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrators Call

This Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrators call is part of the interdisciplinary £31.5 million Greenhouse Gas Removal Demonstrators (GGR-D) Programme, a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) initiative funded by the second wave of the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF). The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Innovate UK will be involved in the initiative’s delivery.

The programme has been set up to support sustainable routes for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, enabling the UK to take a major step towards achieving net-zero emissions and benefit from the £400 billion future global market in greenhouse gas removal.

Two programme calls will support up to five individual GGR Demonstrators (this call – administered by BBSRC) and a central Directorate Hub (separate call – administered by NERC). The Directorate Hub will provide an overarching coordination role across the suite of interdisciplinary programme activities, with a specific focus on environmental, economic, social, cultural, ethical, legal and governance issues. Applicants to the Demonstrator call and the separate Directorate Hub call are advised to read both call announcements to aid understanding of the full scope of the programme. Each Demonstrator will cooperate and engage with the Directorate Hub. The Hub will be responsible for the integration of findings and research, and will coordinate options for a balanced suite of GGR technologies that could provide successful GGR solutions.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the human release of greenhouse gases is changing the Earth’s climate. In 2015, governments from around the world met to agree a framework that would minimise the negative consequences of climate change. The Paris Agreement sets a goal to limit global average temperature increase to ‘well below 2°C above preindustrial levels’, and to ‘pursue efforts’ to limit it to 1.5°C. The role of rapid emissions reduction in meeting this target is widely understood, however, it is increasingly clear that reducing emissions is not enough and that actively removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is also a necessary step. New technologies have emerged that show promise in removing CO2 from the atmosphere but these are not well understood and mostly unproven at large scale.

This call is for applications for GGR Demonstrators that will be responsible for exploring the effectiveness, costs and limitations of large-scale methods of GGR. Potential interdisciplinary Demonstrators could include, but are not limited to:

Direct air capture and carbon storage (DACCS): Research is required to integrate significant UK expertise, to develop and to test air capture materials and components, and to engineer a commercially viable solution for DACCS.

Enhanced terrestrial weathering: Research is required which should include field assessment of the co-benefits to soil/crop mineralisation kinetics and the fate of carbon and liberated elements in the environment (ie soil, surface water and ocean).

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): Research should include minimising land use conflicts, improved accounting practices for sustainability and carbon, and biobased carbon capture technologies.

Biochar: Research should include studies on the efficiency of the pyrolysis process, the fate of its products and the biologically positive and potentially negative impacts of its addition to UK soils.

Large scale-afforestation: Research should include maximising carbon drawdown and storage per area of new forest, potentially combining afforestation with biochar and enhanced terrestrial weathering.

Application is open to all institutions and applicants normally eligible for BBSRC funding. Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators from all disciplines supported by UKRI are encouraged to apply. Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) with 10 or more researchers with PhDs (or equivalent) are eligible to apply.

Successful proposals will be led by researchers with a proven ability to deliver a large-scale research project and interact well with business. Inter-institutional and interdisciplinary applications are encouraged, as are partnerships with non-HEI organisations where they meet eligibility requirements for funding by a research council.

Up to £22.5 million is available to fund up to five Demonstrators to test and pilot a suite of greenhouse gas removal approaches at a suitable scale. A maximum of £4.5 million (at 80% fEC) per Demonstrator is available (dependent on the number of Demonstrators funded). Demonstrators will have a start date of no later than 14 February 2021 and will have the duration of 4.5 years (54 months).

The deadline for expressions of interest is 19 November 2019. If successful at this stage, full proposals will be invited. The full proposal deadline will be in May 2020 (exact date to be confirmed).

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.