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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 14:07 GMT
Centre unveils new energy project
The woodchip generator being installed (picture: Centre for Alternative Technology)
The woodchip generator has cost 333,000
An innovative "green" energy project which will heat an ecology centre and supply the national grid with power is being installed in Powys.

The wood-chip burner at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is thought to be the first small-scale project of its type in the UK.

CAT, near Machynlleth, said its new system would be working by April.

A farmer will supply CAT with "forestry waste" which will then be chipped and used in the 330,000 biomass generator.

CAT also uses solar, wind and hydro energy to power its base.

Underground pipes leading from the generator will be connected to CAT's main building and nine cottages, where 12 of its workers live.

Power demands

The centre, which opened in the early 1970s at a disused slate quarry, promotes a greener way of life. It now employs about 100 people.

CAT said the woodchip-powered combined heat and power plant would generate up to 100kW of electricity, enough to meet the power demands of 40 to 60 households and up to 250kW of heat.

"This will be the first small-scale woodchip chp system in Britain where both the electricity and heat are used," said CAT engineer Katie Brown.

"The woodchip is forestry waste from trees four miles up the road, so there are very few emissions caused by transporting the fuel. The scheme supports a local business.

"We intend to do extensive monitoring of the system which will produce very interesting data that other sites can use in the future."

CAT said wood was considered to be a carbon neutral fuel because the CO2 it releases as it is burnt is equivalent to the CO2 the tree absorbs as it grows.

The Wood Energy Business Scheme has part-funded the new system.

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