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Terravesta wins government funding for Miscanthus project

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A project to facilitate more planting of Miscanthus has been awarded over £150,000 (€174,000) of UK Government funding.

Miscanthus specialist, Terravesta, received the funding through the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme, to help contribute to 2050 net-zero targets.

Terravesta was successful in its bid to secure Phase 1 funding for its OMENZ project, which stands for ‘Optimising Miscanthus Establishment through improved mechanisation and data capture to meet Net Zero targets’.

According to Terravesta, success in Phase 1 of the project will enable upscaling to contribute to the recommendation from the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget in Phase 2. To meet planting requirements, at least 30,000 hectares a year will be planted by 2035 so that 700,000 hectares are planted by 2050.

“The OMENZ project will pave the way for more perennial bioenergy crops to be planted, by developing the technologies and infrastructure needed,” said Michael Squance, Terravesta’s science and technology director.

“Currently, there are around 7,000 hectares of Miscanthus in the UK, and even less short-rotation willow coppice and short rotation forestry. We need to ensure more biomass feedstocks are available to meet the growing demand for decarbonisation of agriculture and the rapidly emerging bioeconomy.

“Ultimately, there has to be market-ready technology to scale it up successfully and this is what this project will help to enable.”

The Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme was launched this year by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and has now awarded £4 million (€4.6 million) of funding for the project development stage of the programme, with up to £200,000 (€233,000) allocated per project.

The funding enables organisations including start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises to develop strong project proposals that will deliver commercially viable innovations in biomass production.

Jason Kam, Terravesta’s head of R&D, commented: “The OMENZ project will take six months to complete, and will analyse field preparation, machinery, technology and planting techniques to identify areas which can deliver gains, efficiency and cost reduction.

“If successful in Phase 2 of the BEIS-funded programme, Terravesta’s project then aims to trial a range of new technologies, including automated systems and drone-linked machine learning, using an integrated data capture and analysis platform to gain insights into crop performance.”