The Bioenergy Infrastructure Group (BIG) has begun operating a new 21.5MW biomass power station in Cheshire following the completion of testing.

The Ince Bio Power plant uses advanced thermal treatment to produce a combustible gas by heating waste wood in a near oxygen-free environment. This gas is then burnt to generate electricity.

BIG says the power station will process up to 170,000 tonnes of waste wood annually and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 65,000 tonnes each year.

The company’s chief commercial officer, Neil Bennett, said: “We are delighted that Ince is now fully operational and will continue to generate clean, baseload, renewable energy for the people of the north west of England.

“This is not only a significant milestone for Ince but also an important moment in the development of gasification facilities in the UK, which are a sustainable alternative to incineration.”

BIG already operates multiple biomass and energy-from-waste plants in the UK and has several more under development or construction. Four of the facilities were bought from the Green Investment Group in 2017.

“With several other assets nearing completion of commissioning, BIG is well on the way to being able to deliver our wider strategy of generating more than 200MW of low carbon renewable energy each year from waste and biomass,” said Bennett.

“This will sustainably support the UK’s increasingly electricity-intensive economy and help generate employment and economic development across the UK.”

Ince Bio Power is the first facility to come online at Peel Environmental’s £700 million Protos energy hub near Ellesmere Port between Manchester and Liverpool. The plant, which began generating power in May last year, will be officially opened over the summer.

Jane Gaston, development director at Peel Environmental, said: “This is a significant step forward for Protos and the creation of a strategic and self-sustaining energy hub in the North West.

“Facilities such as this are vitally important in the transition to a low carbon economy and meeting the government’s clean growth agenda.

“The supply of a local, sustainable and secure source of energy only goes to reaffirm this region’s position as the industrial powerhouse of the UK, making it even more attractive to businesses both at home and overseas.”

A consortium of business leaders, local politicians and academics recently announced plans to bid for a share of £170 million of government funding to support the development of the UK’s first zero-carbon industrial hub.

The North West Cluster said its members are willing to invest up to £500 million to decarbonise an industrial area between Manchester and Liverpool.

What to read next