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Drax and National Farmers’ Union look to stimulate domestic energy crop growth

Drax Group has teamed up with the National Farmers’ Union to identify opportunities to scale up perennial energy crop production and help the UK meet its ambitious climate goals.

The world leader in sustainable bioenergy, having converted its huge power station from coal to biomass, plans to develop a roadmap to boost the market through the partnership.

The Climate Change Committee has previously stated that if the UK is to meet its decarbonisation objectives, a substantial area of energy crops must be planted each year to deliver the low carbon, renewable fuel required over the coming decades.

Read more: Drax looks to build UK supply chain to support bioenergy with carbon capture and storage ambition

The programme will help to provide insights into important diversification opportunities for farmers as they adapt to new agricultural policies, and will seek to identify new revenue streams that may include using marginal land unsuitable for food crops.

Drax Group’s chief innovation officer, Jason Shipstone, said: “If we can source some of Drax’s sustainable biomass for our BECCS units from domestically grown energy crops, we could further reduce our supply chain emissions at the same time as stimulating innovation within British farming.

“By encouraging British farmers to plant energy crops here in the UK, the agricultural sector can join the bioenergy industry, and support national efforts to address the climate crisis, driving down emissions and building back greener.”

The move is described as “demonstrating clear intent” from the bioenergy and agricultural sectors to accelerate the delivery of negative emissions in the UK following calls to action this summer from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Infrastructure Commission, and the Coalition for Negative Emissions.

Decarbonising the Humber – the most intensive industrial cluster:

NFU deputy president, Stuart Roberts, said: “There is a huge opportunity for the growth of perennial energy crops in the UK, with large areas of suitable land potentially available for diversification into the growing of sustainable biomass for renewable energy generation. This would support the UK’s decarbonisation plans as well as our own agricultural net zero ambition, alongside continuing to provide quality, affordable and climate-friendly food for the nation.

“By working with Drax Group, we can unlock this potential and ensure our farmers are ready to take advantage of the opportunity energy crops create, one which will provide a boost to both farm businesses and the UK’s climate credentials. It’s exciting that the carbon dioxide captured by the crops grown by UK farmers for Drax would be permanently removed from the atmosphere.”

The partnership follows last month’s announcement from Westminster outlining a £4 million funding pot to increase British biomass production.

Drax Group plans to deploy the essential negative emissions technology BECCS in the 2020s. This has the potential to create the world’s largest carbon capture power project and deliver a significant proportion of the negative emissions needed for the UK to meet its climate targets. It links into wider plans for the Humber industrial cluster – the most carbon intensive zone of its kind in the UK.

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