We are delighted to announce that Crops for Energy is part of a consortium building a web app to assist farmers, land managers and consultants to make an informed decision about planting biomass crops such as Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow, miscanthus, hemp and Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) poplar and eucalyptus.
The three-year project is headed up by the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland and partners include C4E, NFU Energy, and software developer Calvium and a number of key experts from across the industry.
- what biomass crops are suitable for their land
- what yields are possible
- the best varieties or species
- the production timescales and costs
- the locality of contractors and markets, and
- the economic potential.
- how much land is required to meet all or a proportion of their needs
- the production timescales, and
- the delivered costs.
Therefore, EnviroCrops will be able to provide users with a free or very affordable mini feasibility study so they can work out if a particular biomass crop is
- right for their land
- their system
- their facilities, and crucially
- their pocket.
C4E have been producing feasibility studies for local authorities, waste management companies, airports and farmers for almost 20 years. We realise that if the industry is to grow substantially and help meet Net Zero Targets that we need to gear up landowners, so they have the tools to make informed decisions themselves.
The EnviroCrops app will therefore include all the knowledge and calculators we have built up over many years. By working with other experts from across the biomass crops sector, we will make sure that the app is industry led and bang up to date. The app will also evolve with the markets and be interactive and customer specific. We envisage it being a combination of a price comparison website, a vast encyclopaedia of information, a directory of all the main players and an online trading platform with a local dimension. So, it will essentially be a biomass focussed equivalent of Compare the Market, Wikipedia, Yellow Pages and Gum Tree!
Currently, we have a produced a Proof-of-Concept Demonstrator as part of Phase 1 of the project. In the early months of the Phase 2 work, we will be revamping the app based on user feedback in advance of a limited release to our advisory group stakeholders and industry participants. The alpha release will be thoroughly tested and modified prior to the scaled-up launch of the prototype app. The commercial product will be fully launched by February 2025.
Would you like to be involved? We want to create a user forum of testers that includes
- Would be growers (smallholders, farmers and other landowners)
- Current growers
- Project developers (Power stations, biomass traders, Local authorities etc)
- Agricultural students
- Policy makers
- Conservationists and environmental campaigners
As a member of the user forum, you will get
- Direct and FREE access to iterations of the app
- Be invited to training sessions so you can learn how to use it and interpret the results
- Get the sort of information out of it that you would get from a feasibility study
- Be able to provide feedback and help direct and shape the app so it works for users like you
- Be invited to industry events and site visits.
We do not envisage the time commitment being onerous. Instead, we hope volunteer users will get so much information from using the app that they will want to spend the time learning in order to become significantly upskilled.
If you are considering biomass crops as a grower or a user or just interested in finding out more information, then we’d love to hear from you.
- The project is supported by the Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme, a £36 million programme, funded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s.
- Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme press release
- Redacted PEC-DSS (EnviroCrops) Phase 1 report