Bioenergy support for rural businesses

Renewable energy is of increasing importance to rural business. With a wide range of natural resource and space available, rural businesses have great potential to supply the feedstock and provide the locations for renewable energy technologies. The UK publisher ‘Farmers Weekly’ recently conducted a survey amongst 698 UK farmers and landowners which revealed that 38% farmers have already installed at least one renewable energy technology. Of these, 75% are likely to make further investments.

As major suppliers of bioenergy feedstock, and as both users and exporters of green power, rural businesses and landowners have several opportunities to diversify into the bioenergy sector.

The business support team at the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University is keen to work with rural businesses and landowners to explore bioenergy and supply chain opportunities, examine the business case for bioenergy enterprises and assist in technical deployment. If you’re keen to find out how you can get involved, read on…

Bioenergy business support to rural enterprises

EBRI’s work with rural enterprises and landowners includes a structured programme of free events (from November 2013), knowledge transfer activities and one to one expertise focused on the application of bioenergy technologies. If you’d like to speak to an EBRI adviser about how we can help, get in touch.

Some useful facts for you to consider:

  • The introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive for commercial installations in November 2011 has increased the interest in bioenergy. Heat produced can be used within the business e.g. glasshouse production or exported via a district heating system to local customers.
  • Defra and The National Farmers Union are working towards growing the UK’s number of rural and on-farm AD (anaerobic digestion) plants from around 40 to 1,000 by 2020 as stated in Shared Goals for AD and endorsed by the Coalition Government. Combined with 200 larger waste-linked AD facilities proposed, these plants could generate about 4.5% of the UK’s renewable energy target in the form of heat and power.
  • Neither the burning of biomass for heat nor the digestion of biomaterial through AD are new processes. However, with the scale of investment likely for installation of these processes, innovative bioenergy technologies could provide distinct added value over standard treatments and make a difference to viability and deployment.
  • R&D is focused upon improving organic feedstock quality, broadening the range of usable feedstock type for biogas and biomass through pre-treatment, improving the digestion process, and upgrading gas quality in AD to enable wider use e.g. as a transport fuel, and introducing new processes such as pyrolysis for the treatment of digestate.