DEFRA releases UK biofuel feedstock production statistics

By Erin Voegele | February 20, 2013

The U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently published experimental statistics on the area of crops grown for bioenergy from 2008 through 2011. According to DEFRA, approximately 109,000 hectares (269,345 acres) of arable land in the U.K. planted in 2010 was grown for bioenergy during 2011. This represents approximately 1.8 percent of farmland within the region.

U.K. farmers planted an estimated 1.939 million hectares of wheat in 2010, with 75,000 hectares used for ethanol production. Planted area increased slightly to 1.969 million hectares in 2011, but DEFRA has not yet announced the quantity of that production that went to biofuel production.

While sugar beet hectares stayed relatively level from 2008 through 2011, the amount of sugar beets concerted into biofuel increased slightly. In 2008, U.K. famers grew 120,000 hectares of the crop, 7,000 hectares of which was used as ethanol feedstock. The relative figures for 2009 were 114,000 hectares and 9,000 hectares. In 2010, the numbers grew to 118,000 hectares and 14 hectares. In 2011, the U.K. agriculture industry planted 113,000 hectares of sugar beets. The amount converted into ethanol is not yet known.

Overall, total area used to produce biofuel feedstocks increased from 22,000 hectares in 2008, to 27,000 hectares in 2009 and 97,000 hectares in 2010. This includes feedstock production for both ethanol and biodiesel.

DEFRA’s statistics show that 41.4 million liters of U.K. produced sugar beet ethanol was consumed by the U.K. market in 2008-’09. That figured increased to 63 million liters in 2009-’10 and 68.5 million liters in 2010-’11. Wheat ethanol grew even faster. In 2008-’09 the U.K. market consumed no U.K. produced wheat ethanol. During 2009-’10, only 900,000 liters of U.K. produced wheat ethanol were consumed. In 2010-’11 the amount of U.K. produced wheat ethanol consumed increased dramatically to 119.9 million liters. Overall, the U.K. produced 22 percent of the biofuels it consumed in 2010-’11.

A full copy of DEFRA’s report, titled “Area of Crops Grown for Bioenergy in England and the UK: 2008-2011,” can be downloaded from the department’s website.