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Brian Wilson, minister for energy, has opened the UK's first and the world's largest and most efficient straw fired...
Brian Wilson, minister for energy, has opened the UK's first and the world's largest and most efficient straw fired power station.

The£60m power station, developed by EPR Ely and based in Sutton near Ely, uses new techniques to burn surplus straw to generate electricity. The 36 MW plant will generate over 270 Gwh of electricity a year; enough power to heat and light 80,000 homes. The electricity generated will feed directly into the National grid via an 11 km connection to a nearby substation.

The power station will consume around 200,000 tonnes/year of straw collected from farms within a 50 mile radius. The plant comprises of 18-metre-high straw barns flanking a 25 metre high central boiler. To blend in with the surrounding business park, the design had to resemble the existing warehouse building.

Brian Wilson, minister for energy, said yesterday:

'The opening of this power station represents a milestone in the government's drive for renewable energy. It is the UK's first power station to use any agricultural crop as its fuel. The power station's fuel supply, logistics, projects development and financing were all UK-based.

'The rapid development of energy crops, not only reduces the effects of climate change, but creates employment opportunities in manufacturing, construction, plant operation and servicing. The potential for a green manufacturing industry is an important part of the case in favour of developing our renewables energy.

'The development of bio-energy will also help maintain rural employment during winter when most energy crop harvesting takes place. It will also provide farmers with new market opportunities with growth potential and bring neglected woodland back into production to keep money in rural economies.

'The DTI is providing substantial support for energy crops. Power stations using biomass will be eligible under the soon to be introduced renewables obligation. Also, the government is providing planting grants for farmers and capital grants for new power stations to convert these crops into electricity. Over a three year period the DTI will give a boost to bio energy worth almost£85m.'

Mr Wilson particularly praised the company EPR Ely:

'Energy Power Resources deserve congratulations for their sympathetic development of the Ely site which, by sensitive landscaping and architecture have helped to overcome community concerns. Care and imagination can help new facilities blend in with their local surroundings and this is an example for the whole renewables


The government expects to create a£1bn market for renewable energy by 2010. The main driver for this will be the shortly to be introduced renewables obligation which will put an obligation on electricity suppliers to supply ten per cent of their electricity from renewable sources. In addition a£260m support programme

has been provided over the next three years.


1. The project was developed by EPR Ely, a partnership between Energy Power Resources (EPR) and Cinergy Global Power (CGP). FLS miljo built the plant and is operating it under contract until 2013. Until then, all the electricity produced by the plant will be sold under an NFFO 3 contract. After that, the power will be sold under a Green Power purchase Agreement.

2. The government announced its proposals for the new Renewables Obligation on 5 October 2000 (News release P/2000/667). Copies of the latest Renewables Obligation consultation document are available here.

3. The Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) was a mechanism under which the government obliged public electricity suppliers to secure a specified amount of generating capacity from renewable technologies specified by the government. NFFO contracts were awarded following a competitive process under which the cheapest schemes were selected to secure the required capacity within each specified technology band.

4. For more information on the power station please contact David

Williams of Energy Power Resources Ltd on 01353 777579 or via Paul

Mcmanus on 07980 541893.

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