Business Minister learns of bioenergy opportunities in the West Midlands

Business Minister learns of bioenergy opportunities in the West Midlands from EBRI experts

Business Minister Michael Fallon visited the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University in Birmingham (9 January) to see the innovative sustainable energy solutions and business collaboration opportunities being developed by the Institute.

Mr Fallon was given a tour of EBRI’s bioenergy research laboratories and its unique Pyroformer™/Gasifier pilot power plant which converts waste products such as wheat husks and sewage sludge into useful forms of renewable energy. The Minister heard how EBRI and the University are supporting businesses to maximise bioenergy opportunities which includes providing facilities for organisations to try out new products and processes within the bioenergy field and develop these for market.

As part of his visit, Mr Fallon met two West Midlands businesses who are working with EBRI. Dytecna, a leading independent engineering solutions company, traditionally based within the defence industry, has been working with EBRI to develop a new bioenergy technology prototype. Cofley District Energy which runs district energy schemes in major cities across the UK, including Birmingham, has been working with EBRI to explore how technology developed by EBRI researchers could feed into its Birmingham scheme. Both organisations are based in the West Midlands and have been working with EBRI through a European Regional Development Fund project.

Professor Dame Julia King, Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said EBRI’s aim was to help businesses to be innovative and to consider alternative energy solutions. She said: “The University has engineering and business at its core and we have been able to unite these two strengths together within the European Bioenergy Research Institute to provide vital bioenergy support to businesses. Michael Fallon’s visit to the European Bioenergy Research Institute has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world-class bioenergy facilities we have created in the heart of Birmingham.”

Speaking during his visit, Michael Fallon said: “New and innovative techniques in bioenergy present strong business opportunities for growth and jobs. The EBRI’s progress in this field shows the benefits of opening up excellent research facilities to forward-thinking businesses.”

Professor Tony Bridgwater, Director of EBRI, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses to exploit bioenergy opportunities available to them, especially those resulting from our own research activities, and in-turn to stimulate the economy, particularly SMEs. With the launch of the €70b Horizon 2020 Fund on 1 January, EBRI’s work in supporting these organisations to realise bioenergy opportunities has never been more crucial.”

Michael Fallon was appointed Minister for Business and Enterprise in September 2012 and in March 2013 he was also appointed as Minister of State for Energy. He has been the Conservative MP for Sevenoaks, Kent, since 1997.

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For further information, contact Louise Russell, Marketing & Communications Officer at the European Bioenergy Research Institute, on 0121 204 4637 or at [email protected]

Notes to Editors

The European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI)

EBRI based at Aston University delivers world-class research into all aspects of bioenergy. EBRI has been established since 2007 and bioenergy research has been taking place at the University from as early as 1978. EBRI was recently awarded £8.2 million from the European Regional Development Fund to build a new world-class facility for West Midlands businesses working in bioenergy technologies and component supply chain manufacturers to try out, test and get ready for market new products and processes within this field.

The European Regional Development Fund Programme

The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme which runs from 2007 to 2013. This is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development. The West Midlands ERDF Programme has been allocated €400 million to invest in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. Priority areas and themes for the West Midlands are: Innovation and Research & Development, Enterprise Development, Sustainable Urban Development, and Inter-Regional Activity.

Dytecna Ltd

Dytecna is a SME established more than 60 years ago that has historically concentrated on supply of Defence and Security engineering solutions to the UK MoD.  Since 2011 a diversification initiative has seen relationships formed with academia and other businesses in the Energy and Waste Management sector.  This has resulted in the identification and provision of a range of unique and highly efficient solutions that aid in energy security and the decentralisation and decarbonisation of energy provision.  This strategy is increasingly underpinned by world-wide environmental and legislative control initiatives for carbon reduction, waste management and pollution control.

Cofley District Energy

Cofely District Energy is a specialist company of Cofely and is the UK’s largest district energy company, providing district energy solutions to users in public, commercial, industrial and residential sectors. Cofely District Energy operates some of the largest and most technically demanding District Energy schemes in the UK and are currently saving over 65,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, compared to traditional non-centralised systems.