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'Green electricity' plant to be built near Norwich

PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 01 July 2010

Work to build a pioneering plant on the outskirts of Norwich which will use maize to generate "green electricity" for more than 3,000 homes is set to get under way next month.

Work to build a pioneering plant on the outskirts of Norwich which will use maize to generate “green electricity” for more than 3,000 homes is set to get under way next month.

Energy company Future Biogas will begin building an anaerobic digestion plant on five acres of disused farmland off the A1067 in Taverham - creating the first plant of its kind in the Norwich area.

The biogas plant will ferment about 1,000 acres of specially-grown energy maize to power a generator which will make electricity by burning the gas produced in the fermentation process.

There are thousands of similar plants in Germany but only a handful in the United Kingdom.

Planning permission for the plant was secured from Broadland District Council last November and the backers of the plant hope building work will start in July.

London-based Downing's Venture Capital Trusts has invested £3.8m into Future Biogas, which has given them the funding necessary to get the plant built.

The plan is for the electricity produced to be sold back to the national grid, under the feed-in tariff scheme which guarantees a minimum price for power for 20 years.

The company has already contracted farmer Oliver Arnold, who runs Spring Farm in Taverham, to grow the maize for the plant, while other farmers are likely to follow suit.

Michael Hughes, investment manager at Downing, said: “We have been able to provide capital to Future Biogas as traditional forms of bank funding continue to remain unavailable to small scale operators of low carbon technology.

“Planning permission is already in place and the contracts to farm the maize have already been sorted, so we are ready to go.

“We are hoping to commence construction in July and then it should take four to six months before the plant is up and running.

“We are looking at the beginning of 2011 to get it fully commissioned and generating electricity.”

Just last month business bosses in Norfolk were urged to cash in on the opportunities offered by low carbon technology.

The Sustainability 2010 event, organised by Norfolk and Suffolk chambers of commerce, heard experts explain how to tap into the growing market for environmentally friendly solutions.

The building of an anaerobic digestion plant in Taverham comes after plans for a mechanical biological treatment plant in nearby Costessey collapsed.

Is your business cashing in by going green? Call Evening News business reporter Sam Williams on 01603 772447 or email sam.williams@archant.co.uk

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