Midlands-based Lapwing Energy launches innovative ‘Reverse Coal’ concept

Date posted: July 12, 2022
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Lapwing Energy Ltd, the renewable energy division of The Lapwing Estate – a 5th generation food and farming business, has announced the start of a world first demonstrator of its “Reverse Coal” concept supported by the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy through the phase 2 of the Direct Air Capture and other Greenhouse Gas Removal program.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “This £54 million government investment announced today will help establish a greenhouse gas removal industry in the UK, which could be worth billions to our economy, bringing in private investment and supporting the creation of new green jobs”. Projects developing innovative carbon removal tech benefit from over £54 million government funding – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

One of the largest historic contributors to GHG emissions globally has been the extraction and burning of coal. Lapwing aims is reverse the process, take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, turn it back into solid carbon and bury underground.

Reverse Coal is an engineered natural solution involving the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere through the planting of fast growing coppice trees on rewet peatlands (previously drained for agriculture) and processing it into stable solid carbon which is buried underground in a highly verifiable long term deposit akin to coal. The energy released from the process is utilised for controlled environment agriculture, to enhance the UK’s fresh produce production.

This phase 2 demonstrator builds on other research work underway at Lapwing, a hub for innovation on lowland peatlands:

  • £5.5m UKRI project being by led by Prof Chris Evans MBE (UKCEH), GHG Removal by accelerated peat formation https://www.ukri.org/news/uk-invests-over-30m-in-large-scale- greenhouse-gas-removal/
  • DEFRA/BEIS supported project led by Dr Ross Morrison (UKCEH) Lowland Peat 2 monitoring of GHG emissions from lowland peat utilising a network of flux towers including those installed at Lapwing https://lowlandpeat.ceh.ac.uk/LowPeat2
  • Rethinking farmed peatlands, creating a business model for eco-system services with support from Environment Agency’s (DEFRA & Natural England) Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund https://www.gov.uk/government/news/50-projects-receive-up- to-100000-each-to-boost-investment-in-nature

Lapwing will be working with leading U.K. academics to verify the impact of the demonstrator including:

Prof Simon Pearson, Prof Duncan Botting & Dr Amir Badiee from the University of Lincoln’s – Lincoln Institute for Agriculture, optimising the energy outputs and their utilisation for controlled environment agriculture

Prof Niall McNamara & Prof Chris Evans MBE from U.K. Centre for Ecology & Hydrology who will evaluate the impact of land use change to paludiculture (wet farming), the stability of the solid carbon and the long term monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon sequestered.

Whilst this demonstrator is focussed on carbon sequestration, Lapwing has traditionally been a food business (working with Greater Lincolnshire LEP & U.K. Food Valley) and its vision is a credible system change from the continued degradation of lowland peat for agriculture with the associated carbon emissions to a model which not only delivers carbon sequestration but also enhances year round fresh produce production in the UK, a move from seasonal to full time jobs as part of the levelling up agenda, creates biodiversity net gain, enhances water quality, provides space for flood alleviation and restores lost heritage asset from when the land was drained c.400 years ago.

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