In Andover, UK, wood pellet and briquette supplier Verdo Renewables has officially opened its £15 million (€17 million) wood fuel production plant.
The new facility has the capacity to produce 55,000 tonnes of wood pellets a year. The majority of these pellets will be used in biomass heating systems such as wood pellet boilers and pellet stoves.
In addition to wood pellets, the plant will also produce 15,000 tonnes of wood briquettes for use in open fires and multi fuel stoves.
Speaking at the plant's opening ceremony, Greg Barker, the minister of state for energy and climate change, said: 'Over 95% of heat in the UK is currently produced by burning fossil fuel, producing around half of the UK's carbon emissions – more than from generating electricity. The Coalition's Renewable Heat Incentive is the first of its kind in the world. It will help the UK shift away from fossil fuels, support jobs and growth in an important green industry of the future. Verdo Renewables is in a prime position to take advantage of this existing new market in renewable heat.'
'This plant represents a major investment for Verdo and at the same time offers the opportunity to participate in the renewables revolution that is sweeping across the UK,' comments Richard Smith, managing director at Verdo Renewable UK. 'We are now very much open for business and we are already attracting customers, both domestic and commercial, looking for high performance, high value products.
'Wood pellets are a common form of heating fuel in many European countries, where, as an example, Germany now has over 140,000 wood pellet boiler installations. The price is not determined by fossil fuel prices and this gives customers some security about their future heating costs,' Smith adds.
The plant has created 40 new fulltime jobs, and will also support an additional 30-40 jobs in the harvesting, transport and distribution of its products.
Verdo Renewables also has a similar sized production facility in Grangemouth, Scotland, which opened last year. The wood pellets manufactured at Andover and Grangemouth are the first in the UK to receive certification under ENplus, the new Europe-wide standard for premium quality wood pellets.