Largest renewables area at Cereals 2011

The renewable energy area at this year’s Cereals 2011 event is set to be the largest ever, driven by increased farmer interest in the sector.

Drax Power returns as renewables area sponsor and will highlight the benefits of its Green Shoots direct biomass supply programme, set up in association with Masstock Arable and agricultural consultant Brown & Co. Drax has also announced plans to set up a 28ha Energy SMART Farm with its two partners to test and develop energy crops and to inform farmers how these crops can fit into their businesses.

“Until now our programme for energy crops has concentrated on working with supplier groups,” says Rob Wood, biomass buyer at Drax. “To build the volumes we need we are now also working directly with individual growers and offering direct contracts for energy crops and straw.”

The need for such supplies is growing as the firm plans to increase significantly the amount of biomass it burns, subject to an appropriate level of regulatory support.

“We are delighted to sponsor the renewables area, which has become firmly established as an excellent showcase for the sector,” says Mr Wood.

Renewables is set to become part of the fabric of agriculture and the landscape, says Allan Wilkinson, head of agriculture at HSBC, principal sponsor of Cereals 2011.

“The subject of renewable energy production in farm businesses has caused considerable interest, to take advantage of existing resources or to help counter the rising price of energy. A chat with our dedicated sustainability manager will ensure projects are professionally assessed, planned and structured to suit particular farm businesses.”

Knowing that building and owning an anaerobic digester plant is not for every farmer, BioG UK is seeking growers to supply crops to feed its own plants. It says farmers can increase profit margins by providing an alternative break crop to their existing rotation. Long-term contracts are available, while the farm can also benefit from nutrient-rich digestate applied back to the land.

BioG UK maintains responsibility for growing, cultivating and harvesting the energy crops, using specialised equipment like the Krone Big X forage harvester displayed on the stand, fitted with specialist biogas technology, including GPS yield monitoring, moisture metering and a 40-knife biogas drum.

GlenFarrow will be exhibiting its award-winning range of biomass boilers, which it says are easier to install and use than other comparable units. The GlenFarrow Biomass Boiler is a batch-fed system, using waste or surplus materials such as wood, straw or cardboard (biomass).

The boiler burns these to produce hot water or hot air for grain drying and other agricultural uses as well as domestic, industrial and commercial applications. The boiler is available in five sizes, producing a minimum output range from 50kW to 400kW.

ICE Renewables is launching a pair of GEV MP Vergnet wind turbines. The 200kW model is aimed at the north east and Yorkshire to comply with maximum generation allowances in parts of the region, while the 250kW is launched for clients who want to benefit from the financially attractive 18.8p per kWh generation tariff band.

Over 400 GEV-MP wind turbines have been installed worldwide, with the light, two-blade design aiding cut-in at low wind speeds. The innovative lowering mechanism ensures operation and maintenance costs are kept to a minimum, says the company.

Windcrop will be demonstrating a full-size, working wind turbine at this year’s Cereals event. Windcrop uses 15m high, 5kW generators designed to reduce installation time, minimise the ground space required and make planning approval easier to obtain.

The company secures planning permission and then carries out the installation and ongoing maintenance of all turbines. The landowner receives free electricity generated by the turbine, while the company’s own return comes from the government’s feed-in tariff system. Windcrop has secured contracts for over 100 sites.

Despite the government’s recent review of the Feed-in Tariff and the renewable energy industry, solar energy is still a viable option and growing rapidly, says Cambridgeshire installer Playfords Solar Energy. Farmers, landowners and small businesses are creating new demand for photo-voltaic (PV) systems below 50kW. Solar PV can offset some electricity costs and still provide farmers with a generous return on investment through the Feed-in Tariffs, says Playfords.

Leading bio-energy information service Enagri will be launching its new Directory of UK Biogas Plants at Cereals. The report, which follows on from the success of a similar directory of biomass generation plants last year, is the definitive guide to more than 130 anaerobic digestion schemes and includes both operating and announced projects.

With information on project location, developers, technology providers, feedstock requirements, capacity and subsidy schemes, the directory is set to become the standard reference work for anyone looking for information on the development of the UK’s rapidly expanding biogas industry.


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