The current situation for perennial energy crops (PECs) is looking rosier than it has done for a long time. The Government it seems are finally on side – they have accepted the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) recommendation that the UK needs to plant around 23,000 hectares of willow, miscanthus and short rotation forestry (SRF) per year annually up until 2050 in order to help meet Net Zero commitments.
BEIS are currently working on a new Bioenergy Strategy (the first for nearly a decade) and have just announced a £4 million Innovation competition to meet the demand for bioenergy feedstocks. Also, I am hopeful that DEFRA are slowly waking up to the multifunctional environmental benefits of PECs and there will be some incentives to interest existing and new growers when the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) begins to roll out.
On top of this Brexit has inadvertently created the right conditions for a green revolution with PECs. The gradual removal of farm subsidies will mean that certain farming practices simply aren’t economic anymore. This will stimulate more farmers to look at alternative land uses to make ends meet. Willow and miscanthus are great diversification options that offer long term income streams.
Also, the Brexit deal that was struck has made it virtually impossible (at present at least) to import or export PEC planting material. So this does mean that the UK is isolated and we will need to make our own market for PEC feedstock material. So although, it was by no means a desirable outcome (for me) it does suggest good news for home grown entrepreneurs.
The energy crops seminar at this year’s Low Carbon Agriculture online event will cover all these bases. The event is free for farmers and landowners and £99 plus VAT to anyone else. I will be chairing the session on PECS on:
Tuesday 9th March from 1;30-2:40pm.
- Neil Watkins, Energy Crops Consultancy will present on ‘Understanding the value of perennial energy crops’.
- Charlotte Powell, BEIS will present on ‘Biomass Feedstock Supply Innovation Programme’.
- Sam Tickle, REA will present on ‘The policy landscape for perennial energy crops: ELMs, England Tree Strategy and Biomass Strategy’.
- Jamie Bartley, Unyte Hemp will present on ‘Hemp, the solution to decarbonisation?’