Renewable energy from Willow: Rothamsted Research develops a scientific collaboration with Ukrainian bio-energy firm

27th Sep 2011

Scientists at Rothamsted Research in the UK and Ukrainian based Salix Energy Ltd have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the use of willow crops as a renewable source of bioenergy for heat, electricity or transport fuels.

Willow is of particular interest as it grows very quickly and, unlike other bioenergy crops like wheat or maize, requires little nitrogen fertiliser or agrochemicals and can sequester carbon in soils. Consequently, bioenergy from willow is associated with high energy savings and Green House Gas reductions. Also, they can grow on marginal land which is not viable for food crops and therefore do not compete with food crops for land.

Volyn, where the collaboration is based is the first region of Ukraine to attract investment in the creation of industrial plantations of energy crops and this year, around 500 Ha of willow will be planted, with the first 130 Ha of willow cuttings already in the ground. Salix Energy is the first Ukrainian company that face an ambitious goal - to increase willow plantation up to 2000 Ha by 2015.

The collaboration has received considerable media interest in Ukraine and Dr Sviatlana Trybush of Rothamsted Research, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the UK, appeared on Ukranian television on the 29th of August, alongside Dr John Gilliland, CEO of Rural Generation Ltd; Mr Konstantin Bogatov, Ms Irina Gnap, of "Salix Energy; and the Head of the Volyn Regional State Administration.

Mr Yuri Gorbenko, Head of the Agro-Industrial Development of Volyn Regional State Administration said that the “Government is ready to cooperate and be open, since successful involvement of foreign consultants in the project area will bring more jobs and revenue”.

A spokesperson from Rothamsted Research added that “The MoU paves the way for a productive collaboration and also acts as a platform for future collaborations for Rothamsted Research on renewable sources of bioenergy.”


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