Cardiff-based renewable energy company, Eco2 Ltd, is set to build Wales' first commercial scale biomass plant, construction of which started in October 2006.
British Bioenergy News (Supergen)
The £33m flagship project, which will burn clean wood from sustainable forestry sources in a state-of-the-art combustion system, will be built in Port Talbot.
The project was originally envisaged by the Port Talbot based Western Log Group, one of the UK's leading suppliers of timber cabins, which secured planning permission for the development in April 2004. Situated at Longlands Lane in Margam, Port Talbot, the Western Wood Energy Project will generate 13.8MW of electricity, equivalent to the power consumption of 31,000 homes.
The project's renewable energy credentials enabled the Group to secure a substantial grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, through EU Structural Funds, and £4.65m from the DTI under the Bioenergy Capital Grant Scheme. Eco2 was brought into the project in August 2004 as a joint venture partner, bringing with it the expertise necessary to put together a suite of construction and finance contracts.
The plant will only use clean wood material from sustainably managed forests and saw mills. This carbon neutral method of generating electricity will displace approximately 47,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, compared with the equivalent fossil fuel power station emissions.
Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks said: "This important project - the first commercial scale biomass plant in Wales - will make a significant contribution to our renewable energy targets and will provide a major boost to the local economy. Generating clean and green energy for over 30,000 homes, this project once again demonstrates that Wales is serious about addressing the very serious issues associated with climate change - and is at the vanguard in developing and implementing a wide range of renewable energy solutions."
David Williams, who has been involved in most of the commercial scale biomass projects in the UK and is Managing Director of Eco2 Ltd said: "This is an important project for Eco2 and for Wales as a whole. Every unit of electricity generated by the Western Wood Energy Project displaces a unit that would have been generated by a fossil fuel power station. This will help reduce the negative effects of global warming, which is widely becoming recognised as the greatest threat to humanity and the planet."
In a further potential boost for the local economy, local contractors will be given the opportunity to tender for £7m worth of work during the two-year construction phase of the Western Wood Energy Project, which alone is likely to generate 200 jobs. When completed the plant will create around 30 new jobs for people employed in roles to maintain the plant's 24-hour operation and delivery of fuel.
Funding of the venture has been provided by leading renewable energy financial investor, Good Energies (UK) LLP [previously known as Englefield Capital] and the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ. Eco2 specialises in initiating, developing, financing and operating renewable energy projects throughout the UK. As well as involvement in onshore wind and landfill gas projects, Eco2 is also researching the emerging technologies of wave and tidal power.