Norfolk could exceed green target

A revolutionary Norfolk-born carbon reduction campaign could achieve its target of a 60pc cut in emissions 16 years ahead of schedule if plans for a new £5m biomass plant are given the green light.

A revolutionary Norfolk-born carbon reduction campaign could achieve its target of a 60pc cut in emissions 16 years ahead of schedule if plans for a £5m biomass plant get the go-ahead.

The CRed campaign, based at UEA, aims to cut emissions by 60pc by 2025 - half the time the government set for the rest of the country.

Schemes have spread from Norfolk as far as the US and China but the UEA could become the first to reach its ambitious deadline.

The news came on the day the government said it would double the budget for research into renewable bioenergy, with an extra £20m allocated to investigate how fossil fuels can be replaced with low carbon alternatives.

The UEA, already one of the most efficient generators of power in the country, produces about 65pc of electricity used on campus through a Combined Heat and Power plant (CHP), which cut its carbon footprint by more than 30pc when it was introduced in 1999.

The CHPuses heat normally wasted in generating power to heat buildings and provide hot water. Now the university hopes to build a biomass plant, which "gasifies" timber from local sources and converts it into electricity.

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It could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the UEA direct energy usage by another 34pc - or up to 42pc if excess power is fed into the National Grid.

Prof Trevor Davies, pro-vice chancellor for research and CRed director, said that the biomass plant has huge potential. He added: "The government's target is to reduce our carbon emissions by 60pc by 2050 and Norwich City Council is promoting renewable and sustainable energy through the local plan, which a biomass plant at UEA would complement well. We were being very ambitious when we decided on setting 2025 as our own target.

"If we are able to build this new plant, we could achieve our target on emissions from power usage within two years. It is fitting that UEA, with its strong reputation in environmental sciences, could be pioneering this new sustainable technology, which could also act as an example for others."

The wood would come from sustainable plantations within 50km of the campus and be delivered twice a day during off-peak times.

The UEA is seeking a £1m government grant to help towards the plant, which it hopes to site on part of the main car park.

It will be submitting a planning application to the city council quickly, to meet a tight deadline for the grant bid. The UEA already has permission for a decked car park, and the new proposals mean modifying this to make the car park longer and narrower.