Govt cash boost for biomass

Farmers, foresters and biomass producers can apply for up to £200,000 under a new round of grants announced by Government.

The Bio-Energy Infrastructure Scheme aims to help small-scale biomass suppliers fuel for use in heat and electricity generation.

Ministers said the fund would help the growth of the biomass industry – an area which Government believes will have an important role in helping to meet the EU’s target of using 20% renewable energy by 2020.

Environment minister Phil Woolas said: “We have to rethink our energy mix. We know biomass has the potential to considerably reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions.

“UK producers are setting the standard and have shown production can be sustainable and our investment will support their commitment to this emerging industry.

“The fund will inject cash at the point of production. By investing in the biomass industry we are helping farmers, foresters and other producers to diversify and become part of the environmental industry sector which is currently worth more than £25bn and growing.”

The National Farmers Union said that although the scheme was helpful, it would only be effective in combination with measures to stimulate the installation of biomass-fuelled electricity and heat.

In a statement, the organisation added: “While the £200,000 grants seem appealing, it is worth noting that the total amount available up to March 2011 is no more than £3m – equivalent to 15 maximum grant awards at the £200,000 level.”

The grant is only open to projects based in England supplying biomass to users in Britain, and does not cover biomass made from wood that has been chemically treated or painted, or oilseed rape.

It also does not cover biomass for processing into transport fuels, or animal waste products such as sewage.

The deadline for applications is August 5 for businesses and September 5 for producer groups. More information can be found here.

Kate Martin

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