New international collaboration to help unlock renewable energy and reduce rice straw emissions in the Philippines and India

Supergen Bioenergy Hub sustainability expert Mirjam Röder is part of a new international collaboration aimed at unlocking renewable energy for rice farming communities and reducing rice straw emissions in the Philippines and India.

Mirjam and the team from the Energy & Bioproducts Research Institute at Aston University are delighted to be working with long-standing industrial partner Straw Innovations and award winning SME Takachar as part of the Renewable, Inclusive, Carbon-negative Energy (RICE) project funded by Innovate UK Energy Catalyst programme.

The RICE project will focus on the development of efficient agricultural technologies powered by renewable energy to lower emissions whilst increasing farmer productivity and profitability in the Philippines and India.

Mirjam said:

“Environmentally, rice produces 48% of all global crop emissions, due to methane from flooded fields. This is halved when the straw is removed and reduced further when its carbon is stored in biochar. We are aiming for carbon negative which means removing carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere, or sequestering more CO₂ than is emitted.

“Our new research leads on from our Rice Straw Biogas Hub project with Straw Innovations, SEARCA and Koolmill and we’re pleased to be building further relationships with new partners in India.”

Straw Innovations, a UK based SME have an industrial test facility in the Philippines that has already demonstrated efficient rice straw gathering and processing for bioenergy. This new project will bring the revolutionary biochar technology from Takachar’s proven experience with rice straw together with new improved straw harvesting technology.

Aston University will lead on assessing the sustainability of the project, calculating the greenhouse gas emission savings from removing the straw from the fields and when its carbon is stored in biochar. As well as working on the environmental research, the team will undertake key social research by engaging with the farming community and rural stakeholders to quantify how the systems can increase farmer incomes, equality of opportunity, food security and decarbonisation benefits, whilst highlighting any trade-offs.

Building on the existing relationship between the University and UK based SME Straw Innovations in the Philippines, Craig Jamieson of Straw Innovations comments:

“We’ve been pioneering rice straw work with the team at the Supergen Bioenergy Hub and Aston University for the past seven years. We’re delighted to continue that strong partnership and widen it to include Takachar in this new project.

“Takachar is a leader in making biochar from crop residues and our partnership with them is very strategic. We look forward to combining our new improved straw harvesting technology with their scaled-up biochar production. It will be a step change, creating a new, more efficient system for carbon negative energy and soil improvement for rural communities across Asia.”

Vidyut Mohan who founded Takachar said:

“We are excited to partner with Aston University and Straw Innovations. Our combined solutions can significantly move the needle in reducing crop residue collection costs and biochar production costs for carbon removal.”

Read the full Aston University press release here.

For further details on the project contact Rebecca Fothergill, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the project at 

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