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DECC: £1.3million boost for three clean energy entrepreneurs

10/06/2013

Three British companies have today been given a boost of £1.34million to test cutting edge designs in bioenergy

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Press notice: 13/61

Three British companies have today been given a boost of £1.34million to test cutting edge designs in bioenergy.

The winning companies - AB systems, AMW IBERS and Natural Synergies - were selected from an initial list of seven to go through from the project design stage to the testing phase of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC’s) £2million wetlands biomass to bioenergy competition. The funding will help these companies drive forward innovation in bioenergy production from wetland biomass, including harvesting and energy generation methods.

As set out in the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy has an important part to play in the UK’s future energy mix, with the potential to contribute around 11 per cent of the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020. More innovation and investment is needed to help cut costs in this sector.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“The Coalition Government is committed to innovation, to sustainability and to bioenergy. That is why I’m delighted to announce this investment, worth over £1.3million over a number of years.

“With this funding, the three British companies AB Systems, AMW IBERS and Natural Synergies will be able to test their unique solutions for harvesting wetland plants for clean green power.

“I wish them every success with their projects.”

Quotes from winning companies

Natural Synergies

“Dr Faisal Salam and Victoria Melchor, the Directors of Natural Synergies Ltd, were very excited and delighted at being selected by DECC as one of the companies chosen to progress towards Phase 2 of the Wetland Biomass to Bioenergy competition. The funding from DECC will enable Natural Synergies to establish a demonstration plant utilising wetland-based biomass as feedstock for developing a sustainable distributed energy system. We would like to extend our thanks to DECC for choosing Natural Synergies seminal AD technology for development in Phase 2”.

AMW IBERS

“Jonathan Walker, Director of AMW IBERS, is really excited to be able to trial the innovative technology in Scotland, in particular Speyside with DECC funding. The project will help deliver positive conservation benefit to wetland sites as part of the RSPB futurescapes project, in particular Insh Marshes”.

AB Systems

David A.T. Wynne, Director of A B Systems (UK) Ltd, said: “The funding received from DECC will enable us to build on existing Agbag technologies through the purchase and development of specialist low ground pressure harvesters and of a mobile briquetting plant. It will provide us with the opportunity to undertake development trials and establish techniques for the conversion of a currently underutilized material produced from conservation management. We are very much looking forward to assisting conservation managers enabling them to improve the habitats they control through the production of fuel briquettes from the dried arisings on their reserves.”

DECC’s three phase biomass to bioenergy scheme, launched in October 2012, is designed to promote 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.

Winning organisations awarded funding under Phase 2:

CompanyCompany locationFundingProject idea
AB Systems Exeter, Devon £470,000 Biomass Briquetting to Bio-energy: using alternate methods of harvesting the diverse feedstock from the various landscapes and then drying it in AgBags close to the original site.
AMW-IBERS Uddington, Glasgow £293,733 Green Fuel: an integrated process of solid fuel and biogas production alongside slow pyrolysis for the production of bioenergy from reed, rush, fen, grass and scrub.
Natural Synergies Wilton, Redcar £576,779 Sustainable Utilisation of Wetland Biomass for Energy Generation: the project programme will systematically establish and demonstrate on a commercial scale fundamental operational characteristics of feedstocks under differing process conditions, providing operational parameters for establishing NS AD plants for different market opportunities and establishing investor confidence for full scale implementation. The project will also quantitatively assess energy cost and overall carbon savings by the development of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tailored to low carbon technologies applied to Wetland Systems.

The winning companies will use this funding to test out their unique projects designs in three wetland areas over the next 10 months. A group of wetland management experts will be on hand to help these entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. Harvesting will be carefully monitored by wetland site managers, ensuring that the cutting and collection of plant material is carried out according to the strict guidance laid out for these sites.

Organisations through to the third and final round, for further testing of designs, will be announced in Spring 2014.

Notes for editors

  1. Under the first round of the wetlands biomass to bioenergy competition, the seven winning organisations used funding to work up more formal project plans. At the end of this first phase the organisations involved were required to produce a report on their ideas which was assessed by a panel of experts. The panel then decided which organisations it wanted to put through to the second (testing) phase of the competition.
  2. The UK bioenergy strategy, published jointly by DECC, DEFRA and DfT sets out a framework for bioenergy policy.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Further information on DECC’s innovation schemes.