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Challenging Conditions for Biofuels, Heat, Power Market Remains Steady

19 February 2013
NNFCC

UK - New statistics reveal that around 109,000 hectares (ha) or 1.8 per cent of UK arable land planted in 2010 was grown for the production of bioenergy and biofuels during 2011.

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have published their latest 'experimental' statistics on the amount of land used in the UK to produce biomass for the heat, power and transport fuel markets.

Data shows that in 2011 around 8000 ha of oilseed rape, 14,000 ha of sugar beet and 75,000 ha of wheat were used to produce just over 1.3 million tonnes of feedstock for the UK road transport market.

Ethanol production in the UK from domestic feedstocks was up from 2009 figures, while biodiesel had fallen significantly.

A further 9000 ha of Miscanthus and 3000 ha of short rotation coppice were grown in England for electricity production; by tonnage this was approximately 40,000 tonnes of Miscanthus and 15,000 tonnes of short rotation coppice.

In addition, around 200,000 tonnes of straw (approximately 2 per cent of typical production) was used as fuel in biomass power stations in England in 2010/11.

Straw was not considered in the previous statistical release but has certainly increased with the development of the biomass heat and power market. However, there has been a small decrease in the production of Miscanthus and short rotation coppice since 2009.

The statistics provide useful insight into the status of the UK biomass supply chain but they are also missing key data, which according to David Turley, Policy Manager at NNFCC, means they should be treated with caution: "Biomass grown in the UK could be an important source of low carbon heat, power and transportation fuel; as well as providing jobs in agriculture, logistics and the energy sector. However, the biomass market is particularly sensitive to changes in policy, making it important to track the use of biomass and provide reliable statistics."

"The latest Defra statistics are useful but only tell half the story and do not contain detailed information on the export of crops used in biofuel production, which is an important trading dynamic for the UK market," he added.

For further analysis of the statistics and future market prospects click here.

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