A WOOD-BURNING power station which fuels thousands of homes and helps reduce carbon emissions has been given the Government’s seal of approval.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks MP officially launched the Sembcorp Biomass power station at Teesside’s Wilton International manufacturing site near Redcar yesterday .
The £60m station uses 300,000 tonnes of sustainable wood a year to generate 30mw of electricity – enough to power 30,000 homes.
Mr Wicks, who is responsible for energy policy in the UK, including sustainability and the environment, said: “The UK energy market is one of the strongest and most diverse in the world.
“Our challenge is to find innovative ways to generate energy sustainably. The Sembcorp Biomass Power Station is a real success story – providing carbon-neutral power to the homes of thousands, using fuel from local sources. I salute the efforts of Sembcorp’s workers and management today.”
Sembcorp say the renewable energy initiative saves around 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year compared with a conventional power station – the equivalent in greenhouse gas reduction terms of taking 67,000 cars off Britain’s roads each year.
Paul Gavens, executive vice-president and managing director of Sembcorp Utilities UK, said: “We are greatly honoured that the Minister of State for Energy has agreed to open our plant. Sembcorp is proud to be at the forefront of this type of biomass power generation and we are committed to creating a greener future for our business.”
Vera Baird QC, Solicitor General and MP for Redcar said: “This is a tremendous development. Sembcorp provides all the key services at Wilton. By greening their operations, they make the complex more attractive for climate-conscious companies, both existing businesses and new investors. I am proud to have this sustainable, ultra-modern plant in Redcar.”
The intention to build the UK’s first 1100% wood-to-energy power station was formally announced in March 2005. Work began later that year and following commissioning, full commercial production started in September this year.
The fuel for the station is made up of recycled wood, sawmill offcuts, small logs left on managed forest floors after tree-felling and a specially grown willow known as short rotation coppice.
All the chipped wood is mixed in careful proportions before being fed into the boiler. The electricity is being sold to E.ON.
It is the latest addition to Teesside’s array of alternative energy plants. In July 2006 Tony Blair opened the £45m Biofuels Corporation plant at Seal Sands which is using plant oil to make biodiesel. D1 Oils and Tees Valley Biofuels also operate biofuel plants nearby and there is also Teesside Power’s gas powered station in Middlesbrough.