As part of the UK Government’s plan to accelerate renewable energy, it has awarded £37 million in funding to a range of projects that aim to find new ways to increase the country’s biomass production.

Announced today, 4th August, £32m will be distributed between 12 projects as part of Phase 2 of the Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme. 

The projects include efforts to increase the growth of elephant grass (miscanthus), farm seaweed off the North Yorkshire coast, and increase the harvesting capacity for willow to be used in biomass production.

A share of £5m will fund the 22 winners of the first stage of the Hydrogen BECCS programme, which aims to develop innovative technologies to produce hydrogen from sustainable biomass and waste. 

Commenting on the funding, Greg Hands, Energy Minister, said, “accelerating home-grown renewables like biomass is a key part of ending our dependency on expensive and volatile fossil fuels.” 

“This £37m of government investment will support innovation across the UK, boosting jobs whilst ensuring greater energy security for years to come.” 

Biomass and biogas have been thrust into the spotlight in recent months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

By utilising the biogas and biomethane, the UK and EU could strengthen its energy security and reduce reliance on Russian gas. 

Phase 2 of the BFIP will see projects taken from the design stage to demonstration, which will showcase new methods to grow sustainable biomass materials, supported with £4m government funding. 

Winners include: 

- Aberystwyth University, Wales, which will receive over £2m for a project that looks to explore the potential for biomass use of miscanthus.

- Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast, which is receiving over £1.5m for ‘EnviroCrops’, a project that supports farmers and land managers when it comes to planting perennial energy crops. 

Stating that its technology is going to ‘revolutionise’ the production of low carbon, Stuart Fitzgerald, Managing Director, White Horse Energy, commented on the funding, adding, “White Horse Energy are delighted to proceed into Phase 2 of the BFIP with our mobile pelletisation innovation.”  

By support the scaling up of hydrogen BECCS technologies, the government plans to accelerate the adoption of clean, renewable energy in the UK. 

Winners of the hydrogen BECCS funding include: 

- The University of Aberdeen for its innovations in developing clean methods of obtaining hydrogen from organic matter (£220k).

- The University of Leeds for its H2-Boost project, which aims to produce biohydrogen for the UK transport sector. 

“The ability to capture and store the carbon from our gasification process whilst making hydrogen takes us one step closer to producing cleaner and greener hydrogen and to support the drive to net zero,” stated Paul Willacy, Managing Director, Compact Syngas Solutions, one of the companies to receive funding.

The innovation funding specialist, Catax, worked with CSS to help secure funding.

Stating that carbon capture could be the final piece in the puzzle in the story of hydrogen production, Karen Taylor, Group Head of Grants, Catax, added, ”It is hoped that efficient hydrogen production will put the UK on a fast track to Net Zero and its impact will be felt by all of us, from how we travel to what powers the machines that build our homes and produce the goods we buy.”