Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows


Carly Whittaker

Agricultural Systems Specalist
Sustainable Agriculture Sciences Harpenden

I have been working in life cycle assessment (LCA) of bioenergy systems since 2006, where I took up a Research Assistant post at Imperial College London. Here I worked on the NERC-funded TSEC BIOSYS project, where I explored the greenhouse mitigation potential of various bioenergy supply chains in the UK, including imported agricultural wastes. I focussed on Drax’s co-firing of various biomass types, district heating from locally-sourced wood chips and dedicated wood chip electricity generation. I also performed a LCA on the full life cycle of Miscanthus, Short Rotation Coppice (SRC), and forest residue biomass, including cultivation, harvesting and processing. The project involved working with various stakeholders across the supply chain. The final report is available here, and the results of the project were presented at the Royal Society in June 2009.  


During my work at Imperial College London I also produced a ‘Mirror Report’ to the ‘Billion Ton Report’ by Bob Perlack et al., (2005), which was the first biomass resource assessment produced in the United States. The report for the UK was performed using the same methodology, and I visited the authors of the original report at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The results of the project were presented at Georgia Tech. University, Atlanta, Georgia in August 2007, and the final report is available here.


After this I worked as a consultant for North Energy Associates for almost two years, where I performed LCAs for private and publically funded clients. The main projects include the optimal use of vegetable oil for bioenergy purposes, the environmental impacts of manufacturing several renewable chemicals, and the greenhouse gas implications of timber transport.


I left North Energy Associates in August 2010 to pursue a PhD in the Sustainable Energy Research Team (SERT) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath. The PhD focussed on the importance of LCA methodology on the regulation of biofuels. The research led to four peer-reviewed publications and a book chapter.


During my PhD I also worked as a self-employed consultant, doing LCAs for Miscanthus rhizome propagation (New Energy Farms) and wheat cultivation (Warburtons).


I currently work at Rothamsted Research on the Supergen Bioenergy Hub Project. Rothamsted Research is heading Task 1.4: Streamlining the Supply Chain: where we are looking at losses that occur during biomass harvesting, processing, storage and drying. The main focus is on wood chip storage, which we have set up two outside storage heaps from which are monitoring the greenhouse gas emissions from the heap, dry matter losses and moisture content changes. We are also involved in Task 1.3: Evaluation of Synthetic Natural Gas, where we are examining the biomethane potential of early-harvested Miscanthus. The work involves experimental design, monitoring, laboratory and analytical work.




Works With:
+44 (0) 1582 763 133 ext: +44 1582 938670
Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ


Published Papers: 

Shemfe, M.B., Whittaker, C., Gu, S. & Fidalgo, B. Comparative evaluation of GHG emissions from the use of Miscanthus for bio-hydrocarbon production via fast pyrolysis. Applied Energy. 176 pp. 22-33.

Whittaker, C., Macalpine, W., Yates, N. E. & Shield, I. Dry matter losses and methane emissions during wood chip storage: The impact on full life cycle greenhouse gas savings of short rotation coppice for heat.  Bioenergy Research. 1-16

Whittaker, C., Hunt, J., Misselbrook, T. & Shield, I. 2016. How well does Miscanthus ensile for use in an anaerobic digestion plant? Biomass and Bioenergy. 88 pp. 24-34

Whittaker, C., Yates, N. E., Powers, S., Misselbrook, T. & Shield, I. 2016. Dry matter losses and greenhouse gas emissions from outside storage of short rotation coppice willow chip. Bioenergy Research. 9 pp. 288-302

McManus, M. C., Taylor, C. M., Mohr, A., Whittaker, C., Scown, C. D., Li-Borrion, A., Glithero, N. J. & Yin, Y. 2015. Challenge Clusters Facing LCA in Environmental Decision-Making: What we can learn from biofuels Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 20 pp. 1399-1414

Roeder, M., Whittaker, C. & Thornley, P. 2015. How certain are greenhouse gas reductions from bioenergy? Life cycle assessment and uncertainty analysis of wood pellet-to-electricity supply chains from forest residues. Biomass & Bioenergy. 79 pp. 50-63.

Whittaker, C. 2014. Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuels in the European Renewable Energy Directive: A Combination of Approaches? Greenhouse Gas Measurement and Management. 2-4 pp. 124-138.

Whittaker, C., Li Borrion A., Newnes, L., McManus, M.C. 2014. The renewable energy directive and cereal residues. Applied Energy. 122, pp. 207-215.

Whittaker, C., McManus, M.C., Smith, P. 2013. A comparison of carbon accounting tools for arable crops in the United Kingdom. Environmental Modelling & Software. 46, pp. 228-239.

Whittaker, C., McManus, M.C., Hammond, G.P. 2011. Greenhouse gas reporting for biofuels: A comparison between the RED, RTFO and PAS2050 methodologies. Energy Policy. 39 pp. 5950–5960.

Whittaker, C., Mortimer, N., Murphy, R., Matthews, R. 2011. Energy and greenhouse gas balance of the use of forest residues for bioenergy production in the UK. Biomass and Bioenergy. 35 pp4581-4594.

Black, M.J., Whittaker, C., Hosseini, S.A., Diaz-Chavez, R., Woods, J., Murphy, R.J. 2011. Life Cycle Assessment and sustainability methodologies for assessing industrial crops, processes and end products. Industrial Crops and Products. 34 pp. 1332–1339.

Hillier, J., Whittaker, C., Dailey, G., Aylott, M., Casella, E., Richter, G.M., Riche, A., Murphy, R., Taylor, G., Smith, P. 2009. Greenhouse gas emissions from four bioenergy crops in England and Wales: Integrating spatial estimates of yield and soil carbon balance in life cycle analyses. GCB Bioenergy. 1 pp. 267–281.


Peer Reviewed Book Chapters: 

Whittaker, C., Adams, P., McManus, M.C. 2012. Securing a Bioenergy Supply: UK and US. In: Perspectics on Biofuels: Potential Benefits and Possible Pitfalls. ACS Symposium Series, Chapter 10, pp 171–187.

Whittaker, C. & Shield I. [In press] Short Rotation Woody Energy Crop Supply Chains. In Biomass Supply Chains for Bioenergy and Biorefining. (Eds Jens Bo Holm-Nielsen and Ehiaze Augustine Ehimen) Elsevier.


Non-Peer Reviewed Reports

Wynn, S.C., Kindred, D.R., Evans, A.K.F., Hatto, C., Hunter, A.J., Mortimer, N.D., Mwabonje, O., Rix, J.H.R, Whittaker, C. Minimsing Nitrous Oxide Intensities of Arable Crop Products (MIN-NO) Project. Final Report. Report for the AHDB. June 2015.

Adams, P.W.R, Shirley, J, Whittaker, C, Shield, Darvell, L, Jones, J.M & McManus, M.C. 2014. Integrated assessment of the potential for torrefied wood pellets in the UK electricity market. In: World Bioenergy Conference. Jönköping, Sweden; 3–5 June, 2014. p. 235–39.

Adams, P., Bows, A., Gilbert, P., Hammond, J., Howard, D., Lee, R., McNamara, N., Thornley, P., Whittaker, C. & Whitaker, J. 2013. Understanding greenhouse gas balances of bioenergy systems. Supergen Bioenergy Hub.

Whittaker, C. & McManus, M. 2012. The Environmental Impacts of Utilising Wheat, Wheat Straw, or Energy Grasses as a Bioethanol Feedstock. Conference Proceedings, 7th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems, Macedonia, June 2012.

Whittaker, C. & McManus, M. 2012. The Renewable Energy Directive and Cereal Straw Residues. Conference Proceedings 20th European Biomass Conference, Milan, June 2012.

Whittaker, C., Mortimer, N. D. & Matthews, R. 2010. Understanding the Carbon Footprint of Timber Transport in the United Kingdom. Report for the Timber Transport Forum.

Mortimer, N. D., Evans, A. K. F, Mwabjonje, O., Whittaker, C. & Hunter, A. J. 2010. Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Thermochemical BioSNG Production and Use in the United Kingdom.  Project funded by DECC and managed by NNFCC.

Mortimer, N. D., Evans, A. K. F, Ashely A., Hatto, C., Shaw, V. L., Whittaker, C. & Hunter, A. J. 2009. Life Cycle Assessment Workbooks for a Selection of Major Renewable Chemicals.  Project funded by DECC and managed by NNFCC.

Whittaker, C, Mortimer, N, Murphy, R, Hiller, J., & Smith, P. 2009. TSEC Theme 3.2 Final Report: The Life Cycle Analysis of Bioenergy Supply Chains in the UK.  



PhD Thesis: The Importance of Life Cycle Assessment Methodology in the Regulation of Biofuels (University of Bath)


MSc in Forestry Protection and Conservation (Imperial College London)


BSc in Biology (Imperial College London)