Government announces £4m funding to boost UK biomass production

Posted on 25 Aug 2021 by The Manufacturer

The UK Government has today announced £4m of funding to boost UK production of biomass that can be used as sources of green energy.

A total of 24 projects will receive up to £200,000 each from the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme to produce low-carbon energy using organic materials.

The projects will boost biomass productivity in the UK, through breeding, planting, cultivating and harvesting organic energy materials. Farming seaweed and growing algae from the by-products of whisky manufacturing are among the 24 projects, which includes start-ups and family-run businesses to research institutes and universities.

Biomass refers to sustainably derived plant material that could be used as fuel to produce energy or to create products such as chemicals and bio-plastics. It is a small but important part of the renewable energy mix that the UK requires to meet its commitment to eradicate its contribution to climate change by 2050 – and is also backed by the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change.

Biomass materials include non-food energy crops, such as grasses and hemp, material from forestry operations and marine-based materials such as algae and seaweed.

Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: “Working to develop new and greener types of fuel like biomass is an important part of building a the diverse and green energy mix that we will need to achieve our climate change targets.

“We are backing UK innovators to ensure we have a homegrown supply of biomass materials, which is part of our wider plans to continue driving down carbon emissions as we build back greener.”

seaweed-270426_1280. Image by Ronile from Pixabay

SeaGrown Limited in Scarborough is looking to taking advantage of seaweed’s qualities as a source of biomass and its ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Image by Ronile from Pixabay

Among today’s funding recipients are:

  • Rickerby Estates Ltd in Carlisle – which secured £150,000 to look at scaling-up the harvesting of willow crops using new cutting-edge technology such as automated processing machinery that is controlled by GPS satellite guidance systems
  • Green Fuels Research Limited in Gloucestershire – which received over £190,000 for a project that will allow microscopic algae to be produced for biomass using wastewater from breweries and dairy industries
  • SeaGrown Limited in Scarborough – which will use over £180,000 funding to develop new techniques to farm and harvest seaweed off the North Yorkshire coast, taking advantage of seaweed’s qualities as a source of biomass and its ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere
  • Impact Laboratories Limited in Stirlingshire, Scotland – which received over £170,000 to look at innovation in the commercial cultivation of algae utilising heat provided by geothermally-warmed water from abandoned mine sites
  • Aberystwyth University, Wales – which received over £160,000 for their ‘Miscanspeed’ project, which is looking at ways to improve the breeding of high-yielding, resilient Miscanthus or elephant grass – grass varieties that are well-suited for biomass use – in the UK

As a result of the £4m government funding, the Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme will enable greater supply of organic materials from domestic sources rather than using imported matter, with the 24 projects supporting rural economies across the UK, including providing jobs and encouraging investment.

The Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme is funded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. This supports the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution that sets out the approach government will take to build back better, support green jobs, and accelerate our path to net zero.