23 November 2001

Wood-fuel share drops

ARBRE, the UKs first wood-fired power station, will start continuous operation soon, providing enough electricity for 33,000 people from short rotation coppice and forestry waste.

But, for the first few years at least, the 8Mw plant at Eggborough, near Selby, Yorks, will fall far short of the 80% farm-grown fuel target originally promised (Arable, Oct 30 1998).

"We never said coppice would supply all our fuel. Our target when we set-up was 1500ha – enough for about 40% of our requirement – and the rest would come from forestry," maintains ARBRE director Keith Pitcher.

This winter 70ha (170 acres) of willow will be harvested, rising to 300ha (740 acres) next year and a total of 1300ha (3210 acres) has been planted on contract.

Fuel supply manager Bob Smith stresses that 40% willow is not the limit and more contracts are available for 20ha (50-acre) plus blocks of grade 2 or better land within 40 miles of the plant.

A modified sugar-cane harvester has just been bought from Sweden to harvest the crop. But individual harvesting requirements will be discussed with growers, he adds. &#42

ARBRE COPPICE CUT

&#8226 Continuous electricity soon.

&#8226 70ha (170 acres) coppice cut this year.

&#8226 1300ha (3210 acres) planted.

&#8226 More contracts wanted.