A recent site visit to Somerset by Megan Cooper and Nadeem Mughal from the Science and Innovation team brought to life the potential of the DECC supported wetland biomass to bioenergy project.
The Somerset Levels and Moors is one of the pilot areas for project trials and with year 2 of a 3 year project well underway, it was a great chance to catch up on progress from two schemes being initiated there. The day gave the opportunity for progress reports and updates together with site visits to Lilac Farm and the chance to experience a reedbed from the inside and stand amongst a jungle of reeds 10 foot tall.
Lilac Farm, situated in the heart of the wetland complex known as the Avalon Marshes, provides the perfect site for the proposed anaerobic digester and mobile briquetting plant. The project is using the existing silage facilities to store the feedstock in the necessary green condition for digestion and an area of hard standing to store dry material in AgBags ready for briquetting.
The site visit provided the opportunity to discuss the plans, and all were agreed it is an excellent way to achieve project delivery and a great demonstration of working together for projects in the future.
A walk around one of the reserves took us into the reedbed which will soon be cut to provide the biomass needed for trials. With reeds towering above even Nadeem’s head, the height and thickness of bamboo illustrated not only the prolific growing nature of common reed, but also its potential as a feedstock (a material which is not currently valued but cut and burnt on site).
A very worthwhile day which not only promoted good discussion, but provided the chance to experience how the Wetlands project is opening up new doors, and encouraging joint working between different disciplines. The project is laying the foundations to optimise the future management of our nature reserves for wildlife, whilst undertaking trials to determine how we can maximise the resulting biomass as an energy feedstock.