Eleven bioenergy projects throughout the UK will receive a £4.2 million (US$6.8 million) boost through a new round of Renewable Energy capital grants that will help establish bioenergy projects as a viable source for both industrial and domestic consumers to meet their heat requirements.London, England – January 27, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] They will also help to significantly increase current output from energy crops such as willow, poplar and elephant grass, as well as other sources of biomass like forestry residues. Although energy crops give off carbon dioxide when burnt, they have previously absorbed the same amount of carbon dioxide prior to harvest – this makes them carbon neutral, unlike fossil fuels. Bioenergy is a key component of the government’s renewables program. Early deployment and development of bioenergy technologies will help the government reach its climate change targets and prove a welcome economic benefit to rural communities. “It is essential that bioenergy is given every opportunity to get off the ground now to ensure that projects increase in scale and number, and make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs,” said Energy Minister Brian Wilson. “Bioenergy also has great potential to create jobs and develop new income sources for rural communities through growing and supplying energy crops.” “Successful biomass power stations are already up and running – the straw plant in Ely is providing enough electricity for an estimated 80,000 homes,” said Wilson. “These grants are essential to build on our successes and ensure that more and more of our energy needs are met through clean, green renewable sources.” The awards are the first of a series of grants targeted at project developers and organizations considering investing in heat and/or electricity generating projects fuelled by energy crops. Seven of these projects, which will support the establishment of clusters of bioenergy heating installations, are being backed by the New Opportunities Fund, a National Lottery good cause distributor. “The money from the National Lottery will help to develop an innovative Renewable Energy industry,” said Stephen Dunmore, CEO of the New Opportunities Fund. “Global warming puts at risk the quality of life of all of us, and funding to help develop efficient and sustainable Renewable Energy will make a major contribution to safeguarding our environment.” Four larger scale industrial heating installations, with a heat capacity of more than 0.5 MW are supported by capital grants from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The £4.5 million (US$6.8 million) grants form part of a total of approximately £100 million (US$163 million) allocated to bioenergy projects from the DTI, the New Opportunities Fund and DEFRA. Total funding for renewables stands at over £260 million (US$424 million) over 3 years, in addition to the benefits to the Renewable Energy industry accrued from the Renewables Obligation.