Yorkshire Water is spearheading the venture, known as ARBRE, in partnership with the technology developer TPS Termiska Processor of Sweden and the Royal Schelde Group of the Netherlands (85:10:5 split respectively).
The pounds 28m plant will project electricity by using wood chips from forest residues and short rotation coppice to generate gas to drive turbines. It will be capable of producting 10 mega-watts of electricy, 8MW of which will be exported to the local grid - enough to meet the daily demands of more than 18,000 people.
Yorkshire Water's chief executive, Dr Kevin Bond, said that as well as facilitating land regeneration, the planting of large areas of coppice would provide a valuable outlet for the disposal of sewage sludge generated by the company's regulated business, Yorkshire Water Services.
The project has already received pounds 10m support from the European Union's TERMIE programme, which aims to increase European renewable energy sources from 5 to 12 per cent by 2010. It has also been included in the UK government's non-fossil fuel obligation which is to support and develop renewable electricity generating projects which are both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
The company said local farmers are being enouraged to adopt the new arable crop. "As well as offering farmers the opportunity to diversify, the coppice requires a far lower input of pesticides and other agrochemicals than conventionally-farmed arable crops. The coppice also provides attractive habitat for game birds, song birds and butterflies," the company added.
It said the wood fuel is clean and can be produced sustainably while the plant's emissions will be significantly lower than a coal-fired power station's.
The first electricity is scheduled to be produced at the end of 1999.
Forest Enterprise, the commercial arm of the Forestry Commission, will supply a significant amount of the plant's wood chip fuel needs, with more and more fuel gradually being harvested from fields of short rotation coppice willow.Reuse content