January 11, 2022  /  News

Government Funding to Boost UK Biomass

Innovative UK biomass projects are set to receive a £26 million funding boost as the government ramps up its plans to use organic waste to fuel its net-zero aspirations. Organisations that drive biomass productivity in the UK by breeding, planting, cultivating and harvesting organic matter will be able to bid for a slice of the fund to bring their projects to life. 

What is biomass?

Biomass is a sustainably derived plant material that can be used as fuel to produce energy to heat and power homes and businesses. Billed as an important part of the UK’s renewable energy mix, biomass can be derived from wood, energy crops, waste from forests and even water-based materials such as algae and seaweed.

Over the past few decades, biomass burning has played an increasingly important role in the UK’s electricity supply and is now the second-largest source of renewable energy. Excess hay, wood, seaweed and algae are a more sustainable way to power the country than coal and oil, particularly given the country’s lofty green targets.

How much funding is available? 

Developing greener fuels like biomass is crucial to slashing the UK’s carbon emissions and driving down the costs for consumers. To that means, the government has already given 25 biomass feedstock production projects across the country a share of a £4 million fund under Phase 1 of the Biomass Feedstocks Innovation programme.

Now Phase 2 of the programme, worth a total of £26 million, will support the start-ups, family-run businesses, research institutes and universities that qualified for Phase 1 as they turn their designs into full demonstration projects. The ultimate aim of the fund is to create a homegrown supply of biomass to build a greener future, while also boosting jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector.

What type of projects are being supported?

When it comes to energy, biomass is any organic matter that has been produced and harvested sustainably and can be used to generate energy. This broad definition means that a diverse range of biomass production ideas have been supported under Phase 1 of the scheme. That includes the production of algae from wastewater from dairy industries and breweries, seaweed farming off the North Yorkshire coast and a project to increase the planting and harvesting of willow.

One recipient of Phase 1 of the funding is White Horse Energy, which is applying mobile pelletiser technology to energy crops to create a new source of pellets in the UK market. Aberystwyth University was another recipient. It is working to find ways to improve the breeding of high-yielding and resilient elephant grass in the UK, a grass variety that is well-suited to biomass use. 

Welcoming the UK’s growing investment in biomass, Olly Neil, owner and founder of O J Neil Contracting, said: “It’s great to see that the government is backing biomass production in the UK and that so many new producers are now coming to the table. We’ve been producing biomass fuel since 2016 and it’s a proven and reliable source of renewable energy that is carbon neutral, cheaper than fossil fuels and reduces the waste sent to landfill.”

Find out more

At O J Neil Contracting, we provide year-round biomass services across the southeast by harvesting energy crops for biomass producers and supplying straw and virgin wood chips to sustainable power stations. To find out more about our biomass services, please speak to Tom on 01284 811509 or email office@ojneilcontracting.co.uk.