UK Energy Crops Gain Momentum

Scottish Power has announced its intention to contract farmers to produce 250,000 tonnes of energy crops to replace coal burned at Scotland’s two coal-fired power stations, Cockenzie and Longannet.

The project will use about 35,000 hectares, 12% of Scotland’s total agricultural land. Scottish Power aims to substitute 5% of its coal consumption with energy crops by 2013.

Farmers will grow a mix of crops, including cereals and short rotational crop such as willow coppice. Scottish Power says it intends to maximize the use of set-aside and minimize the effect on land used for food crops.

Frank Mitchell, Scottish Power’s Generation Director, said: “This is a significant step in our renewable energy programme ultimately displacing 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. However, it is also an excellent opportunity for farmers with Scottish Power offering support for the Scottish agricultural community”.

Scottish Power press release

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3 Responses to UK Energy Crops Gain Momentum

  1. earthpal says:

    Hi Pete.

    Not everbody is happy with this. Some people (the Soil Association) feel that cropland should be expanded for organic food production, not for the production of biomass fuel. Basically, they argue that biomass fuel is a very inefficient way of generating electricity and Scotland produces far too little of certain crops as it is now so to take away 12% of the agricultural land would be a bad move. They believe it could actually make things worse for climate change. (I will post the link later if I remember).

    And of course, I can’t imagine that the fuel crops will be organically farmed so I guess there will be contrary environmental implications there.

    It’s another one of those “damned if they do . . . “

  2. matt says:

    It is a tough one this as it looks as though Scottish Power’s initiative will be all that can be done in the area of biofuels for Scotland. After this other options have to be looked at for alternative power.

    We are living in an experimental phase regards new energy options it seems.

    Glad to see Pete has put up one post in the week!! 🙂

  3. Pete Smith says:

    You’re lucky to get even one post Matt, we’ve been away most of the week!

    Earthpal’s right, there are sustainability issues here, some of which we’ve highlighted in earlier posts, such as whether crops are grown organically and whether the distance that the biomass has to be transported to the power plant is included in the carbon ‘audit’ for the project.

    What really struck me is the sheer scale of the project. 12% of Scotland’s arable land is an enormous area, and I wonder how much scope there is for another generator to muscle in on this market. Will the Monopolies Commision get involved?

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