Panel 2: Economics of Net0Biomass
The onset of the pandemic led Austen to return to academia, obtaining an MSc in Energy and Sustainability, awarded with distinction in 2021, from the University of Southampton in the UK. Living in Serbia as the partner of a German diplomat has allowed Austen to continue researching topics related to climate change and the energy transition. As a member of Chatham House, he has participated in the debate, hearing from and posing questions to policy makers and influencers. Negative press coverage of Drax power plant, the largest in the world running on biomass and a conversation with Aleksandar and Jasminka of the RES Foundation in 2023, led Austen to compile a report to establish the current scientific consensus regarding the contribution of woody biomass to net zero.
Austen has lived and worked in the UK, Australia, the USA, Ecuador, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia and the Marshall Islands as well as Serbia. He is a strong proponent of nuclear power, having a thorough understanding of the risks from his first MSc in radiation physics and 6 years supplying instruments and ancillaries to the British nuclear industry.