First major grass-burning power station planned for Britain this year

May 30, 2005 02:00 AM

Work will start this year on Britain's first major power station fuelled by grass, a newspaper reported as Prime Minister Tony Blair tries to make his country more environmentally friendly.
The £ 6.5-mm ($ 12-mm, EUR 9.4-mm) bio-energy power station in Staffordshire, central England, would be run on elephant grass and supply 2,000 homes with electricity.

Amanda Gray, director of Eccleshall Biomass, the company behind the project, said the power station was vital to the rural industry in Staffordshire, and gave the government a further tool to meet its international obligations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Burning elephant grass would only release the carbon dioxide that the plants soaked up anyway while they were growing, she said.
The plant could be a key element in the quest to tackle climate change -- one of Blair's priorities this year as Britain holds the presidency of the Group of Eight powers and prepares to take on that of the European Union from July 1.

Britain generates 3 % of the world's greenhouse gas emissions despite only comprising 1 % of its population. Power stations were a prominent culprit, pumping out around one third of the country's carbon dioxide quota, with the government hoping to reduce Britain's carbon emissions by 60 % by 2050.
Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) has approved a grant to Eccleshall Biomass to help fund the plant's construction, which will begin later this year.
"It is the first major electricity plant of its kind in the country and we're very proud to have it here in our region and to be involved in making it possible," said an AWM spokesman.

The plant will operate for 8,000 hours a year on a 24-hour basis and save one ton per hour of carbon dioxide, which would otherwise have been emitted using fossil fuels to generate electricity.
About 170 local farmers are diversifying into growing the grass crop to feed the steam-turbine generator.

Source: Agence France-Presse
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