The use of grasses, hemp and seaweed are to be promoted via a new £26million government project to help the UK reach net zero.
Innovative UK biomass projects can now bid for a share of the fund as biomass - sustainably derived plant material used as fuel to produce energy for heating and powering homes and businesses - will play a vital renewable energy role.
The plant material is backed by the independent Climate Change Committee and successful projects will drive biomass productivity in the UK through the breeding, planting, cultivating and harvesting of organic matter. This will include water-based materials such as algae, to whole trees through sustainable forestry operations.
The funding will come from Phase 2 of the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme. It will see projects (previously supported under Phase 1 with government funding) apply for further support to bring their projects to life, after designing new ways of boosting biomass production in the initial phase of the scheme.
The biomass programme, part of the government’s £1billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, is designed to increase the production of sustainable UK biomass feedstocks and accelerate the commercialisation of the technologies.
Greg Hands, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “Developing greener fuels like biomass is key to helping the UK slash carbon emissions and drive down costs for consumers.
“This £26million government investment will support innovators across the UK, boosting jobs and investment, and help ensure we have the homegrown supply we need to support our plans to build back greener and tackle climate change.”
There are options to bid for up to £4million in funding, or up to £5million for bids from the multi-site demonstrator projects that will showcase new biomass feedstock production projects across the UK.
Start-ups, universities, research institutes and family-run businesses across the country have already received a share of £4million under Phase 1 of the programme. Under Phase 2, the projects will be developed from the design stage into full demonstration projects.
The projects supported under Phase 1 covered a variety of ideas, including producing algae using wastewater from breweries and dairy industries, farming seaweed off the North Yorkshire coast, and increasing the planting and harvesting capacity for willow.
The Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme will not only help the UK reach its net zero target but will also lead to a greater supply of organic materials from domestic sources, with the successful projects supporting UK rural economies, providing jobs and encouraging private investment.