Streamlined process to help UK reach 6% electricity from biomass target

The Government has started a round of funding for the biomass producers designed to improve entry to the industry. Farmers, foresters and biomass producers can each apply for a maximum £200,000 project-based grant to help encourage production of the alternative fuel. The scheme was introduced in 2004 and is worth £1m for 2008 and 2009.

It is planning to derive 6% of both the UK’s electricity and heat from biomass by 2020. Currently those figures are 3.5% and 0.6% respectively.

To gain funding, the projects have to be in England and provide biomass to end-users in the UK. The money can go towards growing coppice crops such as willow, poplar and alder; grass such as rye and prairie cord grass; and wood fuel from other forestry activities.

Environment minister, Phil Woolas, said: “Biomass has the potential to considerably reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions. UK producers are setting the standard and have show production can be sustainable and our investment will support their commitment to the emerging industry.”

Mark Lebus, managing director of woodfuel consultant, LC Energy, said the announcement was 'great news.'

"It shows that the Government is looking at biomass as a serious option whereas I am not certain it featured too highly before."

A spokesperson for the Defra said that this round of grant applications had been streamlined to improve uptake. “Previously growers had to supply a lot of information,” she said. “Now it’s easier to get involved.”

The Government must meet the European target of 20% renewable energy by 2020.

Deadline for applications for grants is 5 August 2008 for applications from businesses and 5 September from producer groups.

The Government is planning to introduce a new round of funding for biomass capacity installation in the autumn.