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UK: Get more for your straw

As the harvest approaches, many farmers will be looking at market prices and thinking about how much straw to keep or stockpile for their own use and how much to sell on.

The good news for anyone considering selling straw or indeed any other harvest residue for the biomass market is that there’s an easy way to prove sustainability, increase the fuel’s saleability and command a better price – that is to register the fuel on the Sustainable Fuel Register (SFR)

The SFR is an industry-led register of batches of non–wood based fuels. It ensures that from field to boiler all steps in the supply chain are traceable and all the greenhouse gas emissions accounted for at each stage of the process.

So it’s an easy way for producers, traders and end users of the fuel to meet and prove the sustainability criteria required by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – making SFR registered fuels an attractive proposition for buyers with RHI accredited straw boilers.

The SFR process is streamlined and captures all the data required by the RHI so if an RHI auditor comes to visit, all the evidence is easily available.

According to a recent Ofgem report, one of the main reasons for audit failure is lack of correct fuel records and evidence of sustainability (accounting for 35.5% of failures).

Kevin Lindegaard, Director of Crops for Energy and co-founder of SFR says: "The RHI is a 20 year scheme and in that time you will almost certainly get audited. Many RHI participants are unaware of the ongoing obligations and might get a nasty surprise if their fuel records and sustainability evidence is found to be wanting. SFR registration really can help take away this worry and ensure that all your records are in good order and audit proof."

The SFR fee structure is reasonable and users can calculate exactly what they’ll be paying. A £200 annual fee covers 100 tonnes of fuel. Anything above this is £0.50 per tonne. The annual fee is paid once a year and additional amounts can be registered as needed.

If it all sounds a bit daunting, the SFR also offer an assisted application service whereby they handle most of the initial data gathering for a small additional fee.

Anyone who is a self-supplier and moves over to SFR gets a free site visit and audit from an SFR representative as part of the deal (minimum tonnage of 500 tonnes registered per annum). This includes an assessment of procedures and fuel records and recommendations on how to avoid common pitfalls and improve record keeping – further increasing the likelihood of sailing through a full-scale Ofgem RHI audit.

To get started with the SFR or find out more go to or call the SFR team at NFU Energy on 024 7669 8919.

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