Renewable energy courses could be boosted if the popularity of short rotation coppice energy crops grows.

Research by the UK Energy Research Centre has indicated that such farming strategies could support the country's bid to meet 2020 sustainability targets.

Gail Taylor, professor of plant biology at the University of Southampton, said: "This study shows that bioenergy crops can be grown sustainably in parts of England, with no detrimental impact on food crops or other ecosystems services."

If more unused fields are utilised for planting short rotation coppice energy crops such as poplar and willow, it could boost demand for professionals who have completed renewable energy courses.

Professor Taylor added that her team's current work is looking to determine how biomass supply will be affected by climate change.

One major benefit of planting short rotation coppice energy crops is it can be used as a significant resource for local woodfuel markets and entails more cost-effective processing due to its close location.

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