Skip to main content

Biofuels

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government are taking to encourage the use of nonfood crops to generate electricity; and if she will make a statement. [117136]

The Energy White Paper, published earlier this year, sets out the Government's aim to achieve the production of 20 per cent. of the UK's electricity through renewable sources by 2020. Biomass, including purpose-grown non-food crops, could become one of the largest contributors to the renewables mix by 2020.This Department allocated £29 million under the Energy Crops Scheme to support the planting of short rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus, and the setting up of producer groups to supply SRC to energy end-users. £3.5m has been allocated to develop supply chains for energy crops and woodfuel, from harvest to energy end-users.£66 million is available to develop markets for biomass, including energy crops, in heat, combined heat and power, and power generation. Following the award of grants, officials are working closely with project developers to promote the potential of energy crops and biomass. Recently, over 200 farmers attended one such event near Swindon.The co-firing of energy crops with fossil fuels is permitted under the Renewables Obligation. Officials are working closely with the Local Support Teams set up under the Countryside Agency's Community Renewables Initiative, to develop biomass energy projects. At present, energy crops can be planted on set-aside land and receive payments under the arable area payments scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to encourage building of power stations to burn non-food crops for the generation of electricity; and if she will make a statement. [117137]

I have been asked to reply.The Government have supported the building of such power plants for a number of years, for example, through R&D support and the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation. The Bioenergy Capital Grants Scheme, launched in February 2002 and jointly run by DTI and the New Opportunities Fund, has awarded £66 million to projects throughout the United Kingdom. The projects supported include heat cluster installations, combined heat and power plant and larger state-of-the-art power generation. Many of the projects will use energy crops like short rotation coppice as a significant proportion of the fuel.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reports she has received from Sheffield Hallam University on the use of biofuels as the result of work commissioned by her. [117547]

We have received one report from Sheffield Hallam University on the use of biofuels as the result of work commissioned by this Department. The report, titled "Evaluation of the comparative energy, global warming and socio-economic costs and benefits of biodiesel", was commissioned to support the work of the Government-industry forum on non-food uses of crops. The report is available on the Department's website.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Minister in her Department is responsible for developing agricultural policy on biofuels. [117591]

Two Ministers in the Department share responsibility for developing agricultural policy on biofuels. I have responsibility for promoting non-food crops in general and for the climate change benefits of biofuels. My Noble friend Lord Whitty, has responsibility for sustainable farming, the overview of relations between Defra and the Department for Transport, and sustainable energy. We work closely to ensure coordinated policy.