Accelerating the growth of bioenergy crops

Pink flowers of miscanthus grass

Credit: ZZ3701/GettyImages

To meet climate targets the UK will need to rely on a variety of energy sources, including energy from burning biomass crops.

Researchers at the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS) Aberystwyth University, with funding from BBSRC, have developed new hybrids of the biomass crop Miscanthus that will enable growers to scale-up production to meet the UK’s future biomass energy production needs. Such biomass can also be used as a feedstock to replace chemicals and materials currently derived from fossil fuels or energy demanding processes, and therefore help to decarbonise the economy.

The new hybrids are adapted to UK conditions and to growing on areas of lower-quality land that are less suitable for food production. They are produced from seeds instead of rhizomes, which allow for a much more rapid scale-up of the commercial planted area, at a lower cost and with a lower environmental impact.

Industry partner Terravesta holds licences for the most promising new hybrids and is now working on commercial roll-out of the crop. The new hybrids are also undergoing commercial trials in six European countries.

Last updated: 11 March 2021

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