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Drax, NFU partner to scale-up energy crop production

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Drax Group has partnered with the National Farmers Union (NFU) of England and Wales to identify opportunities to scale-up perennial energy crop production.

The Climate Change Committee 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 their new partnership, Drax and the NFU plan to develop a roadmap for boosting the market in perennial energy crops, identifying how they can be used sustainably.

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

The partnership will also support Drax’s ambition for UK farmers to supply some of the biomass needed for its plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

“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,” said Jason Shipstone, Drax’s chief innovation officer.

“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, commented: “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 electricity 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.”