The Essex based start-up has taken away a cash prize to help it explore how varieties of willow can support the airport’s sustainability plans.
As a winner of the Innovation Prize, Energy Crop Solutions will receive £20,000 in funding and the opportunity to use the airport as a “test bed” for their sustainability solution.
They plan to work with local charity Green Corridor to explore how different willow varieties provide acoustic, air quality and aesthetic improvements for local residents. The company will also explore if the willows can be used to fuel the airport’s on-site biomass boiler.
If the results are favourable, Energy Crop Solutions may have the opportunity to expand this project more widely across the airport.
A similar innovation competition, run internally to engage colleagues who work at the airport, was won by Maidenhead resident Andrew Swift. His winning idea is to use the airport’s plastic waste for its road surfacing. Heathrow will fund research into Andrew’s winning idea with its university partners, which could lead to an on-airport trial.
The strength and creativity of the entries received this year has encouraged the airport to launch a second prize early in 2019. Five honourable mentions were given to the other finalists, and Heathrow is exploring whether these ideas can also be supported in some way at the airport:
The Innovation Prize forms part of Heathrow’s Centre of Excellence for Sustainability and the airport’s sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0. The Centre’s mission is to facilitate the research and development of innovative solutions to accelerate the era of sustainable flight.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow director of sustainability and environment said: “The creativity and ingenuity from all the entries we received has shown us the value of our Innovation Prize. We look forward to seeing the results of the research and trials from our winners, and how they will help us think outside of the box to tackle our biggest environmental challenges at the airport.”
Gary Crooks, from Energy Crop Solutions, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be selected as a winner of the Sustainable Innovation Prize. Working with Heathrow has given us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the benefits now possible from the latest willow cultivars and 2nd generation biomass.
“With this amazing opportunity we will demonstrate the benefits of willow for air quality, bio diversity and noise reduction for the local communities. We will also highlight the use the greatly improved 2nd generation biomass accelerating its adoption across the UK. We are excited to explore the opportunities that winning the prize presents and can't wait to get started.”
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