Biofuels a cash crop for farmers?

Farmers can earn more money and be more productive by planting energy crops. An Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) study of three farms demonstrated that by planting crops for biofuel, profits can be […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

Farmers can earn more money and be more productive by planting energy crops.

An Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) study of three farms demonstrated that by planting crops for biofuel, profits can be increased whilst providing green fuels and without impacting food production.

The farmers chose to grow energy crops to make better use of underused or poor quality land, to diversify income and reduce workload.

The study showed how the overall profitability of the land could be increased over a 23-year lifetime, delivering a return on initial investment costs within six to seven years.

The farms planted between 18-30 hectares of Miscanthus and SRC Willow for use in combined heat and power (CHP) plants. All three have successfully secured long term contracts.

The crops were developed without affecting existing operations, which included dairy farming, sheep grazing and the production of food crops.

Hannah Evans, ETI Strategy Analyst said: “Bioenergy from energy crops can play a significant and valuable role in the future UK energy system, helping to reduce the cost of meeting the UK’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions and produce up to 10% of UK energy needs.”

Production of biofuels and other green power options will be discussed at the Energy Live 2016 conference along with a wide range of other energy topics. Limited free tickets are available for energy end users.