BIOMASS DEMAND in Yorkshire looks set to increase, as a key power station wants to source more locally grown energy crops.

Drax power station, near Selby is trialling ‘direct injection’ processing equipment to co-fire wood-derived biomass with coal and aims to take supplies from 12,500ha of energy crops by 2009.

At present, energy crops – including willow Short Rotation Coppice – are supplied by Renewable Fuels from around 1100ha, but the proposed 2009 target is not unrealistic, said the firm’s Pernilla Tweddle.

“We are optimistic farmers will get on board. Energy crops really are worth looking at – they can be planted on set-aside and you can still claim the Single Farm Payment.

“Additionally, you get income from the willow every three years.”

While many growers have been reluctant to commit to SRC and other energy crops, she believes stronger demand and establishment grants will help reverse this.

A £1,000/ha grant is available from DEFRA for establishing SRC and in most cases, this will be sufficient to cover costs, she said.

Renewable energy offer growers help and advice on site selection, establishment and monitoring and delivery of the crop to end-users – www.renewablefuels.co.uk

According to Drax Power Station, crops such as short rotation coppice willow, forestry, miscanthus and rape grown within around 50 miles of the site could potentially meet the firm’s requirements.

For further information, visit www.draxpower.com