Energy and Climate Change Minister announced the award today. The funds are part of a £2 million three phase wetlands biomass to bioenergy competition which was launched in October. The government believes that sustainably sourced biomass could contribute around 11 percent of UK energy demand by 2020 but recognises that more investment is needed in order to drive the sector forward.
“Bioenergy has an important part to play in our energy mix, increasing the amount of power we get from clean green sources.” Barker said. “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.”
The biomass to bioenergy scheme is specifically designed to encourage innovation in bioenergy production from wetland biomass including harvesting and generation methods. The investment announced by DECC today forms the first phase of the scheme and will help organisations to get ideas off the ground and into formal project plans. The winning designs were judged by experts according to a range of criteria which includes value for money, conservation and commercial potential. Other designs including harvesting machinery for fens rush and reed beds and a system for drying bio-energy feedstocks have also been awarded funds for further development.
The seven winners will receive help and guidance from wetland management experts based in the Somerset Levels and the Broads, Fens and Suffolk coast. They will then be required to produce a report which will be assessed further by a panel of experts who will decide which designs go through to the second phase of the competition. Those who pass this stage will be able to bid for a share of the remaining £1.7 million in order to test their ideas in wetland conditions. The winners of the second phase will be announced in Spring 2013. The third and final phase is expected to take place in Spring 2014.