Farmers to grow energy crops in Scotland

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Scottish Power is looking for farmers to grow energy crops, as it seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The utility is looking for contracts with farmers to produce 250,000 tonnes of energy crops such as willow coppice. It wants this to displace the coal it burns at its Cockenzie and Logannet plants. It already burns biomass products such as wood at some of its coal plants, as part of its commitment to renewable energy.

Analysts expect the programme to use up about 12 per cent of Scotland's total agricultural land - with five per cent of Scottish Power's coal requirement cut out by 2013 as a result. The area of the land needed will be about 35,000 hectares, reports state.

Some people have blamed the increasing use of agricultural land for growing energy crops on rising food prices - but Scottish Power says it will address this problem by growing the crops on set-aside land, thereby not displacing crops grown for food.

Frank Mitchell, generation director at Scottish Power, commented: "This is a significant step in our renewable energy programme ultimately displacing 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year."

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