Biofuel market ‘grew fivefold in a year’

The bio-fuel market is expanding rapidly, with a fivefold rise in sales between 2004-2005, the Government said as it reviewed its non-food crops strategy.

But more effort should be made in the future to educate the public in the future, and integrate supply chains and coordinate R&D, Defra said in the ‘Creating Value from Renewable Materials’ report on progress made since the launch of the strategy in November 2004.

Bio-fuels are expanding rapidly but the UK is disadvantaged in relation to global leaders because it started to develop the market relatively late, the report said.

Nevertheless, the land area taken up by non-food crops – plants grown for biofuels, or products like natural pharmaceuticals or renewable construction materials – increased by 75% between 2003 and 2005.

The report, produced by Defra and the DTI, singles out four sectors as most promising and therefore as the areas Government should concentrate on promoting – bioenergy for heat, power and transport, plant-based medicines, renewable construction materials and chemicals.

Environment secretary David Miliband said: “There are clear signs that the bio renewables industry is expanding in the UK and this is set to continue. In England, we have seen increases in the numbers of farms and areas of land producing non-food crops, with sustainable and competitive growth across supply chains.

“There has been significant growth in the consumption and production of biofuels and use of biomass to produce heat and power. The report also highlights considerable progress in bringing to market a range of other renewable products.”

Trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling said: “Bio renewables have great potential for the economy and the environment. The growth we are seeing – a 75% increase in land being used for non-food crops in the last two years alone – is very encouraging. Increasingly the farming industry is seizing on its potential.

“We have backed it with £66m through the Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme. We will continue to support it.

“We want to be a world leader in these new technologies, with government support, the excellence of our science base and the commitment of the industry we can be.”

The Defra / DTI publication comes days before the House of Lords European Union Committee’s report on the UK bio-fuel market and its position in a European context, expected to be published next week.

The ‘Creating Value from Renewable Materials’ report can be accessed here.

Goska Romanowicz

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