DECC rolls out wetland biomass funding

Shares in a £2m Government subsidy have been offered to entrepreneurs in the UK aimed to spur on innovation in bioenergy.

The fund is targeted at encouraging innovation in bioenergy production in wetlands. Currently maintained in several parts of Britain, wetlands provide a rich environment for wildlife such as wading birds, water voles and warblers and the harvested material from these sites can be used to produce energy.

The funding comes as part of a more than £200m pot for low carbon technology investment. It was issued by the government in the spending review of October 2010 and will cover four financial years starting from April 2011.

The idea behind the investment is to inspire innovation in harvesting and energy generation methods by using plants already being grown which would otherwise go to waste.

According to the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy could contribute around 8-11% to the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020.

Applicants can apply for up to £50,000 to turn their ideas and designs into project plans and if successful can apply for up to £1m to start trials. Reports on the trials will then be assessed at which point, if a panel of experts see potential, applicants can apply for further funding.

The proposals will be judged on a range of criteria including value for money, quality of project plans, consideration of conservation issues and the commercial potential of the plans put forward.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said:

“As well as providing a valuable habitat for a range of plants and wildlife, our wetland areas produce a diverse mix of clean green energy sources which in many cases are currently going to waste.

“Our new scheme will help spur on improvements in the way these plants are harvested and used to generate power, helping us cut carbon and meet our renewables targets, whilst maintaining and building on current conservation practices.”

Conor McGlone

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