DEFRA releases biopower feedstock production statistics

By Erin Voegele | February 20, 2013

The U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently published experimental statistics on the quantity of land used to grow bioenergy feedstocks in the U.K. According to DEFRA, approximately 40,000 metric tons of miscanthus and 15,000 tons of short-rotation coppice (SRC) were used to generate electricity in 2010-’11.

The data published by DEFRA shows that approximately 0.2 percent of the England’s 4.6 million hectares (11.37 million acres) of arable land were used for growing miscanthus and SRC in 2011. The 15,000 tons of SRC used in U.K. power stations during 2010-’11 equates to nearly all the SRC grown in England during the period. However, DARFA estimates less than half of all the miscanthus produced in England in 2010 was as feedstock in U.K. power stations. Other possible outlets for miscanthus output cited by the department include livestock bedding, small-scale combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plants, and home- or farm-scale heating.

According to DEFRA, the number of farmers growing miscanthus has increased in recent years, growing from 335 in 2008 to an estimated 398 in 2011. In 2010, the department estimates that 404 growers cultivated the crop. Among those farmers, DEFRA notes that 17 percent grew 5 hectares or less of miscanthus, with 18 percent growing between 5 and 10 hectares. Just less than a third, 29 percent, cultivated 10 to 20 hectares of the crop. Approximately 31 percent grew 20 to 50 hectares, with 6 percent cultivating more than 50 hectares.

SRC was grown on less than 0.1 percent of arable land in the U.K. In 2010, a total of 2,591 hectares of the crop was cultivated, representing 251 growers. According to DEFRA, 33 percent of farmers growing SRC cultivated 2 hectares or less of the crop. Only 12 percent cultivated 20 hectares or more. The remaining 54 percent grew between 2 and 20 hectares.

A full copy of DEFRA’s report, titled “Area of Crops Grown for Bioenergy in England and the UK: 2008-2011,” can be downloaded from the department’s website