Work to start on biomass power plant

Work to build the country's first biomass power generating plant will begin in Norfolk early next year at a cost of £8m, it was announced yesterday .

Work to build the country's first biomass power generating plant will begin in Norfolk early next year at a cost of £8m, it was announced yesterday .

The plant will be built at UEA and construction work is expected to begin March after funding for the project, including a £1m grant from the government, was confirmed.

UEA officials hope the plant will start generating power this time next year.

UEA is already one of the most efficient generators of power in the country and has reduced its campus carbon footprint by 30pc since the installation of its combined heat and power plant in 1998.

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Now the new plant, which is the largest scale venture of its kind in England, will help the campus meet the ambitious 60pc cut in carbon emissions, set by the UEA-based CRed carbon reduction campaign, more than a decade ahead of its 2025 target.

Prof Trevor Davies, UEA pro-vice-chancellor and director of CRed, said: “It is fitting that UEA, with its strong reputation in environmental sciences, is at the forefront of this new sustainable technology which could see the university achieve our ambitious target of a 60pc carbon reduction by 2025.”

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The plant will be fed with chipped wood which is cooked rather than burnt to drive out volatile gases which are then cleaned up and used to power engines to generate electricity.

The heat generated by the engines is also captured and pumped around the site to warm the campus.

It will run alongside the current combined heat and power plant with the boilers used as a last resort if it is a particularly cold winter.

Martyn Newton, UEA's risk and sustainability manager, said: “The university has expanded considerably, bringing with it increased demands for power.

“We have explored a range of sustainable options. The technique we are adopting has been used in other countries and achieves very high standards of emissions control.”

A rectangular building will be constructed to house the plant, which will be fed by two lorry loads per day of fuel from local sources.

There are 50,000 hectares of woodland within 50km of UEA, though not all of it is managed, and discussions are taking place about where the fuel will come from.

Mr Newton added: “We want the wood to come from within 50km on average. If you look at the carbon emissions from the lorries it is tiny compared to the amount we will save.”

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