The UK's first power plant that burns woodchips has opened in Teesside, aiming to save 200,000 tonnes of CO2 a year

A £60m wood-burning power station was opened yesterday by energy minister Malcolm Wicks.

The Wilton 10 plant on Teesside, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will burn around 300,000 tonnes of woodchips a year, providing enough energy for 30,000 homes.

It is thought the facility will save 200,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, compared to a fossil fuel burning plant. The Electricity generated will be sold to energy company E.on.

Operator SembCorp Utilities UK said around 40% of the chips would come from recycled timber and much of the rest from managed forests in the north-east, saw mills and a specially grown energy crop.

Paul Gavens, Sembcorp Utilities UK executive vice president and managing director, said: “This investment is extremely good news for Sembcorp, the Wilton International manufacturing site and the people of the Tees Valley and the North East in general.

“It sustains jobs and plays a part in helping the Government meet the UK’s climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets.

“Renewable energy presents an entirely new business opportunity for this region and one that we’re keen to be a part of.”