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DECC - £292,000 boost for bioenergy entrepreneurs



Seven British entrepreneurs have been awarded a share of £292,000 to spur on innovation in bioenergy, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker announced today.

This investment is part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC’s) £2million three phase wetlands biomass to bioenergy competition launched in October last year.

As set out in the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy could contribute around 11 per cent to the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020 but more investment is needed to drive further innovation in this sector.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“Bioenergy has an important part to play in our energy mix, increasing the amount of power we get from clean green sources. It can help cut carbon and enable us to meet our renewables targets. But more innovation is needed in this sector, and that’s what our wetlands biomass to bioenergy scheme is designed to encourage.

“It’s great to see that seven organisations across Great Britain have come forward with exciting and innovative ideas to drive this forward, and I wish them every success with the development of their plans.”

DECC’s biomass to bioenergy scheme is aimed specifically at encouraging innovation in bioenergy production from wetland biomass, including harvesting and energy generation methods, and using plants already grown which would otherwise go to waste once harvested.

Investment announced today will fund the first phase of this scheme and will help the winning organisations get pre-commercial design ideas off the drawing board and into more formalised project plans.

Winning organisations awarded funding under phase 1 include:

AB Systems: £12,180

Adapt: £36,560

EcoCZERO: £50,000

AMW-IBERS: £48,514

Carbon Compost: £46,812

Cranfield University: £49,400

Natural Synergies: £48,060

The designs were judged by a panel of experts on a range of criteria including value for money, consideration of conservation issues and the commercial potential of the plans put forward. Winning designs awarded funding for further development include harvesting machinery for fens rush, and reed beds; a system for drying bio-energy feedstocks close to the site of harvest; and new innovative methods for using harvested wetland materials to generate energy.

The seven successful applicants will receive help and guidance from a group of wetland management experts in the Somerset Levels and Moors, and the Broads, Fens and Suffolk coast area to get the most out of their designs. At the end of this first phase the organisations involved will be required to produce a report on their ideas to be assessed by a panel of experts. The panel will then decide which organisations it wishes to put through to the second phase of the competition, to bid for a share of the remaining £1.7 million to trial project ideas in wetland conditions. Organisations through to phase 2 of this competition will be announced in Spring 2013.

The panel will decide which organisations to put through to the third and final phase, for funding for further testing of designs, in Spring 2014. Notes for editors

The UK bioenergy strategy, published jointly by DECC, DEFRA and DfT sets out a framework for bioenergy policy.

Wetland areas are currently maintained in several parts of Britain to provide habitats for a range of wildlife including wading birds, water voles and warblers and the harvested material from these sites can be used to produce energy.

The biomass to bioenergy scheme aims to use plants already being grown and harvested in wetland areas and use them for generating power. As these plants are already being grown for conservation purposes new land is not being used up, nor is this resource competing with land for food crops or houses.

The Spending Review of October 2010 announced funding of over £200million for low carbon technologies over the next four financial years from April 2011. This funding has been allocated across the energy sector, including support to bioenergy projects.