Biomass firm set to double workforce at north Cumbrian plant
A renewable energy company is set to create up to 15 jobs at its biomass operation near Calthwaite, north of Penrith.
Aggregated Micro Power Holdings (AMP) has taken over a
mothballed gasification plant that uses surplus offcuts from forestry
operations to generate electricity, which is sold to the National Grid.
It has plans either to upgrade the capacity from 1.0 to 1.5
megawatts, or build a second 1.5 megawatt plant alongside it. That would
double the workforce to 30.
The plant was opened in 2007 by brothers Mark and Charlie Jones, of
Low Plains Farm, as a way of generating electricity for the farm and
providing extra income.
AMP’s chairman, Neil Eckert, said: “We’ve taken the plant over and
done a lot of work and now we’re in the formal process of commissioning
with a view to hitting full capacity in the second half of this year.
“One of the big challenges in setting up a gasification plant is
getting the necessary planning permissions and grid connection. At Low
Plains that was all in place, and we have a very willing landlord.”
The plant uses sustainably-harvested timber from plantations within
20 miles or so of Calthwaite. This is chipped then gasified to extract
the syngas as fuel for the generator engines, which produce electricity –
enough to power up to 1,400 homes.
AMP was founded in London in 2010 to develop, own and operate
small-scale, clean-wood, gasification plants to generate electricity and
heat. It also supplies and operates biomass boilers.
The two strands of the business complement each other, because heat
from the gasification plant is used to dry wood chip and wood pellets.
These are used as fuel in biomass boilers and for domestic wood-burning
stoves. Dried wood pellet is available in 10kg bags from Low Plains, or
is delivered in bulk for larger industrial boiler systems.
AMP has installed three commercial biomass boilers in a school, care
home and a rural business park in Cheshire. More are being installed in
two further schools and another is planned for a health spa. None as yet
is in Cumbria.
Mr Eckert said: “The hope is that we can install boilers [in
commercial premises] around our Cumbrian plant that will consume our own
woodchip. We call it the hub-and-spoke model.”
The company raised £9.5 million by floating on Aim – a junior version of the stock market – last month.
The shares listed at 100p and were trading at 106.5p this week, giving AMP a market capitalisation of £27.4m.
It anticipates paying dividends from 2015 onwards.
It will use the capital raised by the flotation to fund expansion,
which could include new plants in Wales and Devon, as well as at