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Success at Energy Now Expo

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Energy Now Expo – the renewable energy event for farmers and landowners- was a great success for us this year, and we had plenty going on…

George Robinson spoke in the energy crops conference session about the economics of growing miscanthus. Mike Cooper, who manages the southern region, ran a workshop in the renewables advice clinic on growing energy crops. And to attract visitors to the stand on their way into the Expo, we gave out free teas and coffees to visitors from a Terravesta branded vintage bus.

The energy crops session offered a great platform to present our case and discuss the future of energy crops in this country. According to the host of the session, Lucy Hopwood, from bioenergy consultants, the NNFCC, there’s been a huge increase in the area of energy crops grown in the UK.

“Although imported biomass still dominates the market, we’ve seen a 135% increase of dedicated biomass crops planted since 2013, amounting to 122,000 hectares. That’s 2% of arable land area in the UK,” she said.

“And to deliver the savings required, we’re going to need to see a huge increase – with 1.4 million hectares of bioenergy crops needed by 2015.

“The infrastructure needs addressing – but this should happen as markets mature,” said Lucy.

George Robinson put the case forward for our contribution in driving market maturity, with our business model.

“We have 215 long-term contracted growers and 5096ha of miscanthus contracted land. We’re hugely excited about the opportunity of establishing more land,” said George.

“Our target is 350,000ha – 7% of every farm in England. And, we’re growing the market in order to facilitate this target. We currently supply Drax, and whole bale power stations, we’re also seeing increasing demand for small scale renewable projects, and we’ve launched an initiative for growers to ‘burn while they earn’, offering up 50% of crops as heat in pellet form.

“In light of volatile cereal prices, and the need to maximise returns from all available land, miscanthus is a viable solution. And we’re seeing more interest in the crop than ever,” adds George.
The session invited good engagement, and generally we spoke to many growers interested in planting this fantastic crop on their marginal land.