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Lantmannen Agroenergi sells Renewable Fuels Ltd

Lantmännen Agroenergi AB has reached an agreement to sell its former UK subsidiary Renewable Fuels Ltd to the specialist bio-energy company Coppice Resources Ltd. The sale is another step in Lantmännen Group's strategy to become leaner and more focused. The transfer is effective from 1 December 2010.

Under this agreement Coppice Resources Ltd (CRL) has acquired the company and its short rotation coppice (willow) contracts and will transfer the activities to their operating offices at Retford in Nottinghamshire. CRL was established in 1999 and since then has invested in SRC crops, technology and contracting and has a wide base of growers and industrial users. Commenting on this acquisition Mark Paulson, Managing Director of CRL and Renewable Fuels Ltd says: “In order to sustain growth in such a fledgling market it is essential to achieve a critical mass and this acquisition provides a secure base for our company to further expand and develop the market of SRC and bio energy crops in general. We view this as a long term investment that is very much in line with our development strategy.


”After careful consideration, we concluded that Coppice Resources Ltd are in the best position to take over the management of Renewable Fuels Ltd”, says Per Strömberg, Lantmännen’s Group President and CEO, and Acting Sector Manager for Lantmännen Energi. “Whilst we have withdrawn from direct UK presence in this market we look forward to strengthening our relationship with CRL through the testing, evaluation and commercialisation of new willow varieties from our company’s long established willow programme based in Svalöf Sweden.”



First pellets produced at Retford
The CRL/Biojoule pellet production plant, now under construction near Retford, produced its first pellets from woodchip this week during initial trials. Building of the plant should be completed within the next month with full-scale pellet production underway during the summer. 10,000 tonnes of pellets will be produced annually and these will be delivered to Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire schools for their new biomass heating systems. Pellets will also be available, either delivered or for self-collection, for local domestic biomass boilers. Woodchip produced from locally grown short rotation willow coppice (SRC), harvested last winter, has been stockpiled close to the plant to naturally air-dry as fuel for the plant. The maximum moisture content of woodchip should be 35%, preferably less, and with SRC chip this can be achieved in carefully stacked commercial outdoor storage heaps over a period of two to three months. Woodchip produced from urban tree surgery, woodland and forestry management will also be part of the fuel mix for the pellet plant. Waste wood will not be used. Farmers and landowners wishing to grow SRC for the pellet plant should ideally be located within a 25-mile radius of Retford. Please contact Barbara Hilton on 01904 624948 for further information.



New CRL SRC harvester under development
CRL have recently bought a 600bhp Claas Jaguar 900 forage harvester, the largest Jaguar currently made by Claas, and development and construction of a new CRL SRC header to be fitted to this machine is now underway.

Due to CRL's increased demand for SRC harvesting, we felt that an upgrade of equipment would be beneficial to both improve harvesting efficiency and, potentially, make fuel savings. The new Claas Jaguar has the facility to be able to adjust maximum engine speed to suit individual crop conditions hence the possible fuel savings.

The new header will be a progression from the header built last year and exported to the US for use on a New Holland forage harvester. It will be more adaptable and therefore fit a wider range of machines, with less re-working required, including Claas, New Holland, John Deere, Krone, etc.

The new header and harvester will be trialed to assess whether we can achieve more output from the larger machine or whether we have already reached the end of the useful power curve.



Notts Goes Green with New Pellet Plant
Sustainable energy source available to local businesses and consumers
Nottinghamshire is set to be the first region to benefit from a new partnership between distributors and suppliers of carbon-neutral, cost-effective wood pellet fuel. Biojoule's new pellet plant, near Retford, will refine locally grown wood and energy crops into high-energy, wood pellet fuel. The Energy Crops Company will then offer a high-quality delivery service to customers in the region. The new plant could cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25,000 tonnes a year and will contribute towards the UK's commitments to cut emissions.

The partnership will also benefit local farmers, who have been recruited by the plant's operators, Coppice Resources Ltd, to grow short rotation crops, like willow, from which to produce pellets, a sustainable and economically viable use of land. Willow is also an attractive energy crop fuel for local power stations that will help them meet their obligations for the use of renewable fuels.

Peter Webster of Energy Crops says: "Pellet-fired burners are proven technology - many parts of Europe, especially Scandinavia, have been using pellets as an energy source for years. They are a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels in the home and for businesses and provide heat with no smoke, leaving only a light, clean ash. Pellets are clean and dry, almost dust-free, and easy to store and handle.

"Going green doesn't have to be expensive either: pellets can now be supplied at prices that compete with, or even beat, mains gas. This partnership will have a real impact on Nottinghamshire's environmental performance, and make a significant contribution towards cutting the UK's emissions as a whole. The Retford plant will be the first of many rolled out across the country."

Mike Mason of Biojoule says: "This agreement helps create a distributed local pellet supply network that will help consumers and businesses to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The recent publication of Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the costs of climate change has spelled out the need to adopt new ways of thinking when it comes to energy supply and use.

"Our plant will come on stream in early 2007. Over the past three years we have built up considerable expertise in the production of easy-to-handle wood fuel. We have also developed excellent relationships with growers of energy crops throughout the country. Partnering with The Energy Crops Company will give us considerable production flexibility and provide a solid foundation for further investment."

About wood fuel
Wood is an ideal fuel for the UK. It can be as cheap or cheaper than oil or gas, but emits much less carbon dioxide when burnt. Raw wood chips are also as useful as crude oil, and turning them into pellets, like refining crude oil, transforms a difficult-to-handle, unpredictable and low-value fuel into a predictable, clean, high-value fuel that is easy to store, transport and handle.

Traditional pellet plants are large fixed installations usually attached to major sawmills. This means that smaller woodland and energy crop farmers are missing out on a major market opportunity, and energy consumers who don't live near a large sawmill are denied a green and cost-competitive choice.

Burning a tonne of coal produces about 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The output from each Biojoule plant could replace 7,000 tonnes of coal and thus avoid about 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Burning biomass from sustainably managed sources is effectively climate neutral. Almost all of the carbon dioxide released on combustion is reabsorbed by crops or trees that have replaced the fuel being burnt.



Short Rotation Coppice Planting Moves North
The windswept Orkney Isles, just off the north coast of mainland Scotland, may not seem the most likely place for growing biomass willow, but earlier this month Fred Walter of Coppice Resources Ltd (CRL) made the long journey from Doncaster, including the 6-hour ferry journey from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, with an Egedal willow planter, a Valmet tractor and eight boxes of willow rods to establish 10ha of short rotation coppice (SRC) on the islands. This was planted on land belonging to two local farmers, Eric Shortland and Cliffy Bichan and at an experimental site managed by the Agronomy Institute of Orkney College.

Eric Shortland said "I have always been interested in renewable energy and decided to plant willow SRC because I believe that the cost of heating fuels will continue to rise, making willow an increasingly attractive renewable alternative. Although the establishment costs are high, the recent increase in the planting grant is a big help. Another attraction of the crop is that, after establishment, it will need relatively little attention and few inputs".

Cliffy Bichan is interested in installing a domestic wood-fired boiler - "We have a large and difficult to heat farm house - with the increasing price of heating oil, wood chips are becoming an attractive alternative and once we start to harvest the willow we shall look seriously at putting in a wood-fired boiler. Also we have a lot of slurry and effluent from our cattle and the willow could be a good way of managing this."

The commercial planting comes after a trial run by the Agronomy Institute showed that biomass yields of around 8odt/ha/year are achievable in Orkney by about the third year from planting. Interest in willow as a biomass crop goes back to 2002 when Orkney Housing Association Limited installed a wood-fired boiler in its 40-home Lynn Road housing development. Currently, this is fuelled with wood waste, but the new SRC growers hope to develop a supply chain which will provide locally grown wood chips to the development. If the supply chain is successful, the group hope that more wood-fired heating developments will be established on the islands and that more farmers will plant SRC.

Peter Martin, Senior Researcher at the Institute, said "Although trees generally struggle to get established in Orkney, wild willows and willow for hedging are not uncommon here and the biomass yields we obtained from small scale SRC trials were sufficiently encouraging to justify larger trials with local growers. The research trials that have recently been planted at the Institute are designed to identify the best varieties and most appropriate harvest cycle for Orkney conditions. Although we recognise that there are a number of aspects of the supply chain which need further attention, we think it is a good time to be trying to develop the crop in Orkney because of factors like the increasing cost of heating fuel, the need for agricultural diversification and the islands' interest in renewables."

CRL have planted SRC across both the UK and Ireland but Orkney is their furthest trip north so far. Fred Walter, one of CRL's Directors, said "It was a pleasure working with the people on Orkney. The planting went well, there was a lot of interest in the work and the local hospitality was excellent - it gave me an opportunity to sample a few of Scotland's finest malts!"

Anyone interested in growing SRC with CRL should contact Barbara Hilton on 01904 624948, 07920 203280 or

For further information about the Agronomy Institute please contact Peter Martin, Senior Researcher, on 01856 569298 or or visit the institute website at

The Agronomy Institute was opened as a crop-based research centre at Orkney College in 2002 and is investigating and developing alternative crops suitable for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Orkney College is an academic partner in UHI Millennium Institute, a project to bring a University to the Highlands and Islands.



Short Rotation Coppice Planting Begins in Earnest
Planting of around 500ha of short rotation coppice (SRC) began this month after Coppice Resources Ltd (CRL) took possession of their second Egedal SRC planter from Denmark.

Fred Walter, Director of CRL, said: "The Egedal planter is very reliable and running well. We have had some modifications incorporated in this second machine and will continue this ongoing development with further improvements as necessary. Running equipment across significant hectarage and on most soil types allows us to identify whether machinery needs to be improved and, if so, how to go about it."

CRL, based in Yorkshire, have been developing, building and improving SRC machinery since 1998 and now have the full range of equipment needed for efficient establishment and harvesting of the crop.

This spring CRL will be planting SRC from Kent in the south up to the north of Scotland and from Norfolk in the east across to Ireland. The crop will be grown under a number of supply contracts and for various energy markets including domestic biomass boilers, dedicated biomass power plants and for co-firing.

Fred Walter added: "Ironically despite the impending drought, what we need now is some dry weather to allow us to continue planting."



Successful completion of REG's harvest trial
Co-operation between CRL and Renewable Energy Growers (REG) continued when REG asked CRL to harvest a number of their SRC sites this season. REG required wood chip rather than billets for fuel supply to an energy end-user and as their own harvester produces billets of between 10 and 20cm in length, these would have needed to be chipped prior to delivery in this case. 45ha of SRC were successfully harvested by CRL, using our direct-chip harvester, on behalf of REG in Yorkshire during December and January. The good working relationship between CRL and REG has included machinery maintenance and SRC planting and will hopefully continue in the future as both companies make every effort to further the development of the biomass industry and also encourage farmers and landowners to learn about and grow energy crops.



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