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New ETI report : Investing in planting 2nd generation bioenergy crops can deliver the twin benefit of emissions reduction and job creation

A new report published by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) supports the belief that as the UK exits the European Union there is an opportunity for the country to restructure farming support to increase soil carbon sequestration and farm-scale biodiversity, protect current employment levels and create new jobs by planting new second generation crops for energy use.

  • Post Brexit there is the opportunity to restructure UK farming support to encourage sustainable growth of the UK biomass sector
  • Increased planting of bioenergy crops presents an opportunity to support existing employment and create new opportunities for the UK’s farming and forestry sectors
  • When sited considerately, planting second generation crops can deliver genuine emissions reductions, improve soil carbon sequestration  and farm-scale biodiversity

eti logoThe perspective report “Opportunities for rural job creation in the UK energy crops sector” uses analysis undertaken for the ETI by ADAS, the UK’s largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice. The report concludes that the present political environment of the UK exiting the European Union provides the country with an opportunity to restructure farming support in a way which encourages the sustainable growth of the UK biomass sector by placing a value on the wider environmental benefits growing second generation energy crops can make to the UK farming landscape.

The planting of these second generation crops (Miscanthus, Short Rotation Coppice Willow and Short Rotation Forestry) also presents an opportunity to create new jobs and support existing jobs in the UK farming and forestry sectors.

ETI have been long-term advocates of bioenergy as a hugely valuable source of low carbon renewable energy because it can be stored and used flexibly to produce heat, power, liquid and gaseous fuels. Today first generation crops dominate the UK energy crops sector but ETI research over the last ten years has indicated that second generation crops can deliver much greater greenhouse gas emissions savings across a wide range of end uses. ETI believes that with improvement to total land productivity and a reduction in food waste, the UK could convert a total of 1.4 Mha of UK land to bioenergy crops by the mid-2050s without impacting on the level of land used for UK-grown food consumption.

The crops can improve farm-scale biodiversity and soil carbon sequestration particularly when transitioning from low productivity arable land. Placing a value on these attributes through farming support mechanisms would reduce the risk to farmers by providing them with a degree of income security.

The majority of the new job opportunities that would be created will be part-time (due to the seasonality of the planting cycle) but importantly these will complement the existing seasonal demands of other roles in the agricultural and forestry sectors, particularly in arable farming, thereby extending employment options to year round activities.

To make this a reality, investment is needed “off farm” to develop the capabilities of the specialist contractor base involved in the planting, harvesting and the production of plant breeding material as they require specialist machinery.

Hannah Evans, strategy manager, bioenergy at the ETI comments:

“There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the UK’s agricultural sector as we navigate ourselves through Brexit. This report hopes to highlight again the upside benefits of an increased investment in the growth of UK bioenergy crops by demonstrating there is a twin benefit –greenhouse gas emission savings and the economic benefit of the extension and creation of agricultural jobs.

“ETI’s work is based around a whole energy system analysis, which means taking a holistic approach and examining the interdependencies of decisions on the energy system. This approach also extends to the production of bioenergy feedstocks and therefore we would encourage decision makers to view the full level of benefits that can be gained from an increased planting of second generation crops from both an environmental and economic perspective.”

To view the full perspective report please visit http://www.eti.co.uk/news/new-eti-report-investing-in-planting-2nd-generation-bioenergy-crops-can-deliver-the-twin-benefit-of-emissions-reduction-and-job-creation

About the ETI

The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK Government.

The role of the ETI is to act as a conduit between academia, industry and the government to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. We bring together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits. We make targeted commercial investments in nine technology programmes across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.

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Yorkshire firm behind largest solar installation in Ghana

A Leeds-based solar power company is behind the largest solar installation in Ghana.

2017 08 08 102453With Ghana experiencing an erratic power supply and regular blackouts known as ‘Dumsor’, a local woman reached out to the Yorkshire outback specialist to help take the power into her community’s own hands.

Successful Ghanaian businesswoman, Gloria Rego, who generously supports schools, churches, and community projects in the area, set out to find a solution to the regular power outages and price hikes that has blighted Ghanaian for years.

With plans to open a soft drinks factory in Kpong, employing more than 100 local people, Gloria needed to overcome Dumsor and rectify her unreliable three-phase power grid which regularly lost phases and fluctuated from 100 to 180 volts per phase, damaging electrical equipment.

Leeds-based Xero Grid, an outback distributor and authorised service centre in the UK and Spain, supported Gloria to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) array of almost 400 panels to help run offices and staff accommodation at night time.

Gloria Rego comments:

“It has been my dream to support our local Kpong community in Ghana by employing local people in our drinks factory. Thanks for the support by Xerogrid, we have overcome Dumsor and our business is now producing fruit juice drinks and filtered water.”

Ian Emberton, founder and managing director of Xerogrid adds:

“We’re passionate about giving power to the people and connecting people off-grid to create their own electricity. David still uses his three-phase generator for welding and two large machines, we plan to expand and convert what he has to three phase in the future to help him save even more and continue to run his important farming business.”

Xerogrid formed as Ian E Energy in 2014 and, having experienced phenomenal growth, has recently re-branded to extend their services specialism across the globe.

Xero Grid are supported by the largest free business accelerator programme, Entrepreneurial Spark, in Leeds where founder, Ian Emberton, has won a £3000 award for the fast-growth of his business.

About Xerogrid

Established by Ian Emberton in 2009, Xerogrid is a world-class provider of renewable energy solutions.

Working with a range of reputable manufacturers, the firm distributes and installs leading edge solar panels, wind turbines and related accessories to customers worldwide.

After having recognised a global demand for renewable energy solutions, former motorcyle mechanic, Ian Emberton, began providing clients with a much more affordable and reliable source of energy than traditional power suppliers. 

Using solar, wind and gravity to store electricity in batteries, which is inverted to AC power and backed-up by auto start generators, Xerogrid allows their customers to take an ‘off-grid’ approach to energy consumption, becoming more independent, eco-friendly and reducing their carbon footprint.

Currently run from offices based in Leeds, the business employs two members of staff and has firm plans to grow the team in 2017.

For more information, please visit: www.xerogrid.com

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Collaboration with Ecotec Solution fuels Italian expansion for UNTHA

Industrial shredder manufacturer UNTHA has witnessed significant growth in Italy following a collaboration with one of the country’s leading environmental technology specialists, Ecotec Solution.

The experienced waste processing firm supplies systems that turn clients’ residual materials into valuable resources. And in the last 12 months alone, Ecotec Solution has secured six high value projects for the Austrian shredding giants.

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These include three XR mobil-e sales for waste to energy facilities – one in Trieste handling bulky input wastes for cement fuel preparation, and two tackling pre-treated MSW to create varied products including an infeed material for heat treatment. Other sales include a static XR3000C shredder for high performance <50mm SRF manufacturing, an XR2000R shredder for the <350mm processing of MSW, and a TR2500 post shredder to produce a refined <30mm cement fuel from pre-treated light fraction.

Commenting on the relationship, Ecotec Solution’s managing director Martin Mairhofer said: “In the face of a complex waste landscape, we work hard to help Italian clients realise the benefits of the value chain.

“We need to recommend the world’s best technologies to do this and our knowledge of UNTHA’s shredding technology has really helped in this respect, over the past 12 months.”

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Elaborating on the specific challenges facing Italian waste firms, Martin explained: “Landfill sites are closing and, due to a lack of more traditional waste disposal options, companies are looking for new channels for their residual materials.

“High value prices for SRF make this non-traditional treatment method an attractive alternative, but a significant degree of investment is required to design and build commercially robust plants.

“UNTHA’s advancements in single-step, high performance and cost-efficient fuel preparation technology however, have opened up new margin opportunities for the industry’s more forward-thinking players. These are the companies that are going to fill the waste gap in our evolving market.”

UNTHA has now installed more than 9,000 shredders worldwide, including over 150 of its most talked about XR machines.

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UK grown biomass can deliver greenhouse gas savings so support for farmers should be restructured to encourage the sustainable growth of the sector

UK grown biomass can deliver genuine, system-level, greenhouse gas savings and there is an opportunity to restructure farming support in a way which encourages the sustainable growth of the UK biomass sector, according to a new paper published by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

eti logoBioenergy from biomass and waste already plays a significant role in delivering low-carbon heat, power and transport fuels in the UK, and ETI analysis consistently highlights the continued importance of developing the bioenergy sector to deliver cost-effective emissions reductions across the energy system.

Until recently bioenergy production has been dominated by waste feedstocks, but demand for more sustainable UK-grown and imported biomass to support emissions reduction targets has risen.. To further increase supplies of UK-grown biomass more energy crops and forestry need to be planted.

The ETI has worked on a number of projects to develop a better understanding of how much sustainable biomass could be produced in the UK, through identifying suitable land, and estimating how much could be dedicated to bioenergy crops whilst taking into account other demands for land in the UK.

The ETI perspective paper “Increasing UK biomass production through more productive use of land” brings together those findings to set out a suggested approach for delivering a substantial energy crops sector in the UK.

It says that planting around 1.4 Mha of second generation non-food bioenergy crops such as Miscanthus, Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow and Short Rotation Forestry (SRF), by the 2050s would make a significant contribution to delivering the country a cost- effective, low-carbon energy system.

This would be equivalent to around 7.5% of the total agricultural area of the UK.

Steadily increasing the amount of bioenergy crops in the UK out to the 2050s would allow the sector to ‘learn by doing’ and develop best practices, as well as monitor and manage impacts on other markets and the wider environment.

Hannah Evans, the ETI’s Bioenergy Strategy Manager said:

“Delivering a substantial UK energy crops sector whilst balancing the demand for land use from other sectors will require an increase in land productivity and a reduction in food waste throughout the supply chain.

“The market for second generation energy crops is nascent and requires support but there are opportunities for the sector to grow.

“As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, there is an opportunity to restructure farming support in a way which provides long-term clarity and support to farmers and encourages the sustainable growth of the UK biomass sector.

“This could place a value on the wider environmental benefits growing second generation energy crops can make to the farming landscape, reducing the risk to farmers by providing a degree of income security.”

“Increasing UK biomass production through more productive use of land” can be found at http://www.eti.co.uk/library/an-eti-perspective-increasing-uk-biomass-production-through-more-productive-use-of-land

About the ETI

The ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce and Shell – and the UK Government.

The role of the ETI is to act as a conduit between academia, industry and the government to accelerate the development of low carbon technologies. We bring together engineering projects that develop affordable, secure and sustainable technologies to help the UK address its long term emissions reductions targets as well as delivering nearer term benefits. We make targeted commercial investments in nine technology programmes across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.

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Aquila Capital expands the capacity of wind farm in Norway by 40 MW

Aquila Capital is increasing the installed capacity of its Midtfjellet wind farm in Norway by 40 MW to a total of 150 MW. Eleven Nordex N117 turbines are to be installed, each of which has a 3.6 MW-rated output.

logo aquila2 grayMidtfjellet has been in operation since 2013 and currently consists of 44 Nordex N100 and N90 wind turbines that were built in two expansion phases. The windpark has produced around 322 GWh/year since it was connected to the grid.

Connection of the additional installations in the third construction stage will be carried out in early 2019 and this will increase the production of the wind park by about 110 GWh/year. The windpark is located directly on the coast, about 60 km from Norway's second largest city, and thus benefits from optimal wind conditions.

Susanne Wermter, Head of Investment Management Energy & Infrastructure EMEA at Aquila Capital, said: "We look forward to further expanding our successful cooperation with our Norwegian partners. The past few months have shown how value creation can result from collaborations between asset managers and strategic investors.”

Roman Rosslenbroich, CEO and Co-Founder of Aquila Capital, said: “Our majority stake in Midtfjellet Vindkraft AS represents a decisive step for us in the implementation of our Renewable Energy Strategy in Scandinavia. Northern Europe offers very good wind resources: electricity generation costs are generally competitive and require a lower total investment cost than many other feed-in tariff markets.

“We plan to further diversify the portfolio we manage through selected additional projects in Northern Europe and we are constantly reviewing potential target investments.”

Aquila Capital’s transaction volume in wind energy has now reached more than EUR 1 billion, based on assets with an installed capacity of more than 1 gigawatt.

About Aquila Capital

Established in 2001, Aquila Capital is committed to provide institutional investors worldwide with alternative investment solutions in real assets, financial and private markets. Applying a multi-disciplinary investment approach, Aquila Capital’s range of alternative investments is managed by dedicated specialists in their respective asset classes and underpinned by an infrastructure that combines strong operations and stringent corporate governance.

Over 200 professionals across nine offices globally implement efficient investment strategies via fund structures and individual mandates. The Aquila Group comprises Aquila Capital Investmentgesellschaft mbH, which is licensed by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) to act as an alternative investment fund manager in Germany, and Alceda Fund Management S.A., which is licensed as an alternative investment fund manager and UCITS management company in Luxembourg by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF). 

Further information can be found at www.aquila-capital.com.