A new project to facilitate more planting of the perennial bioenergy crop, miscanthus, has been awarded more than £150,000 in funding through the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme to help contribute to its 2050 net-zero target.
As part of this, Terravesta has secured Phase 1 funding for its OMENZ project which stands for ‘Optimising Miscanthus Establishment through improved mechanisation and data capture to meet Net Zero targets’.
According to the company, success in this phase will enable upscaling to contribute to the recommendation from the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon budget in Phase 2, to fulfil the need to plant at least 30,000 hectares a year by 2035, so that 700,000 hectares is planted by 2050.
“The OMENZ project will pave the way for more perennial bioenergy crops to be planted, by developing the technologies and infrastructure needed,” explained Michael Squance, Terravesta’s science and technology director.
“Currently there are around 7,000 hectares of Miscanthus in the UK, and even less short-rotation willow coppice and short rotation forestry. We need to ensure more biomass feedstocks are available to meet the growing demand for decarbonisation of agriculture and for the rapidly emerging bio-economy.
“Ultimately, there has to be market-ready technology to scale it up successfully and this is what this project will help to enable.”
The Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme was launched this year by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and has awarded £4 million in funding for the project development stage, with up to £200,000 of funding per project.
It’s enabling organisations, including start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises to develop strong project proposals that will deliver commercially viable innovations in biomass.
Jason Kam, Terravesta’s head of R&D, said: “The OMENZ project will take six months to complete, and will analyse field preparation, machinery, technology and planting techniques to identify areas which can deliver gains, efficiency and cost reduction.
“If successful in Phase 2 of the BEIS funded programme, Terravesta’s project then aims to trial a range of new technologies, including automated systems and drone-linked machine learning, using an integrated data capture and analysis platform to gain insights into crop performance.”
The BEIS programme is separated into two lots. Lot 1 covers innovation projects and Lot 2, multi-site demonstrator platforms. The multi-site demonstrator will act as a platform on which to test and demonstrate a number of Lot 1 innovations in a range of UK locations during phase two of the programme, which is in planning for spring 2022.
To learn more about miscanthus go to www.terravesta.com.