Chris Blincoe, Adapt Commercial manager

Norfolk venture secures government contract to generate green energy from wetland reeds

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
9.51 AM

A Norfolk business venture has won a contract to to generate energy from East Anglian reed

Adapt Commercial, a wholly owned company of the University of East Anglia (UEA), secured the deal with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to look at innovative ways of generating energy from wetland reeds.

Adapt was one of only seven British entreprises to have been awarded a share of the £292,000 set aside by DECC to kick start innovation in bioenergy.

The project will look at using reeds, already grown in East Anglian wetland areas - which would otherwise go to waste once harvested, as a fuel source for energy generating facilities. Gasification plants would then be able to convert the reeds into energy for cooling systems in summer, heating in winter and electricity.

The investment of more than £36,000 will fund the first phase of the scheme which will create commercial design ideas for a low-ground tracked machine for harvesting reed beds. At the end of this first phase in Spring 2013, an expert DECC panel will then decide which organisations will progress to the second phase of the initiative, which would see the new harvester built and trials conducted in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Chris Blincoe, Adapt Commercial manager, said: “We are delighted to have won this contract with DECC. Our project team across the whole Adapt Group has extensive expertise in bio-renewable materials and links with both businesses and academic organisations developing innovative technologies for biomass conversion.

“We will explore how wetland sites in East Anglia could be managed in a cost effective and beneficial manner – resulting in increasing the amount of power we can get from clean green sources.”

Mindful of important conservation requirements, the project also includes detailed plans for working sensitivity within wetland habitats. Adapt Commercial is working with Peter Frizzell Ltd, which specialises in the management of conservation sites.

DECC’s biomass to bioenergy scheme will encourage innovation in bioenergy production from wetland biomass, including harvesting and energy generation methods. As set out in the Government’s 2012 bioenergy strategy, sustainably sourced bioenergy could contribute around 11 per cent to the UK’s total primary energy demand by 2020.

The designs were judged by a panel of experts on a range of criteria including value for money, consideration of conservation issues and the commercial potential of the plans put forward.