Paperboard manufacturer Iggesund built a new 50-megawatt combined heat and power plant at its Workington mill in Cumbria two years ago. With a total demand of 500,000 tonnes of biomass fuel per year, the plant's commitment to sourcing up to 10 per cent of its fuel needs from local farmers in the North West, southern Scotland and across the North of England has created new growing opportunities for both upland and lowland farmers.
Iggesund is signing long-term biomass supply contracts with farmers and landowners who want to supplement their farm income with SRC (short rotation coppice) willow production. Local planting and harvesting contractors based in Cumbria and Yorkshire offer a particularly convenient service to producers located relatively close to the mill.
Farmers have to prepare their land, following clear guidance from Iggesund, but Iggesund contractors take care of the rest of the specialist work. Planting takes place in Spring, but contracts and land preparations start as early as September, with willow cuttings ordered before December. Payments are made at three-yearly intervals over 22 years. For more details, contact TmVpbC5XYXRraW5zQGlnZ2VzdW5kLmNvbQ== Tel. 07780 480695
NFU advisers Jenny Willis and Jonathan Scurlock participated in an NFU member visit to the Workington mill last week, viewing fields of willow planted close to Iggesund's factory (see photo, right) as well as the power plant and paperboard mill itself.
Energy crops suffered a setback with the 2013 demise of Defra's old Energy Crops Scheme. However, with Iggesund driving SRC willow growing in the North, and Terravesta supporting miscanthus planting in the Midlands and South, the re-invigoration of the perennial energy crops market on the basis of purely private sector contracting and risk-sharing is a very welcome development.
The photograph below shows the power plant's biomass fuel conveyor (blue) which brings chipped wood from the A-frame fuel store (white), with stacked piles of logs to its right.