NFU teams up with Drax Group to develop energy crops

The sustainable bioenergy company, Drax Group, has teamed up with the National Farmers Union of England and Wales (NFU), to identify opportunities to scale up perennial energy crop production and help the UK meet its climate goals.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) 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.

Through the partnership announced today, Drax and the NFU plan to develop a roadmap for boosting the market in perennial energy crops, identifying how they can be used sustainably.

The programme of work will help to provide insights into important diversification opportunities for UK farming businesses as they adapt to new agricultural policies and will seek to identify new revenue streams that may include utilising marginal land unsuitable for food crops, as well as delivering meaningful climate action.

It will also support Drax’s ambition for British farmers to supply some of the biomass needed for its plans to develop the vital negative emissions technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Reducing supply chain emissions

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.”

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.”