NEW ground has been broken in the effort to provide more environmentally-friendly fuel – with the first sod of earth cut at the site of Sheffield’s new £120 million biomass-fuelled power station.
Old wood which would otherwise be sent to landfill will fire up the plant at Blackburn Meadows, producing 30 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 40,000 homes.
It will also create 200 new jobs in the construction phase, set to take more than two years, and 30 permanent jobs once operational.
The ceremony was carried out by Charles Hendry, Minister for Energy, who visited the site yesterday with executives from power company E.ON.
He said: “I am pleased to be here to break the first ground for the building of a new biomass power station. The project will not just provide secure, low carbon energy from waste wood, it will support hundreds of jobs in construction too.
“The company’s plans for a visitor centre and a community benefits package will help give local people a real sense of ownership of the plant.”
Tim Forrest, head of biomass at E.ON, said: “We’re pleased the Minister has recognised the significance of our investment in this development, both for Sheffield and for the UK.
“We’re committed to developing renewable energy and biomass power stations such as Blackburn Meadows form a very important part of that low-carbon solution.”
There are currently just 10 biomass power stations operational in the UK – although several dozen more are going through the planning process.
Sheffield’s power station will be the seventh-largest power station of its kind in operation but less than a fifth of the size of the largest – the 222MW station at Drax in North Yorkshire.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “We’re pleased to see the construction beginning on site and we continue to support E.ON’s investment in the city.
“The council is committed to working with the private sector to develop renewable energy projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to ensure the security of energy supplies in the longer term.”
E.ON said it will use UK- sourced recycled waste wood to power the plant.