A new £15 million eco friendly wood fuel production plant, creating 40 new jobs, was officially opened in Andover by Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change.
It is estimated that Verdo Renewables' Andover facility will also support a further 30-40 jobs in the harvesting, transport and distribution of its carbon neutral products.
The Andover facility will produce 55,000 tonnes of premium quality wood pellets each year primarily for use in biomass heating systems such as wood pellet boilers or pellet stoves. The plant will also produce a further 15,000 tonnes of wood briquettes for use in open fires and multi fuel stoves.
Declaring the Andover facility officially open, Greg Barker said, "Over 95 per cent of heat in the UK is currently produced by burning fossil fuel, producing around half of the UK's carbon emissions - more than from generating electricity.
"The Coalition's Renewable Heat Incentive, is the first of its kind in the world. It will help the UK shift away from fossil fuels, supporting jobs and growth in an important green industry of the future. Verdo Renewables is in a prime position to take advantage of this exciting new market in renewable heat."
Richard Smith, managing director, Verdo Renewables UK said, "This plant represents a major investment for Verdo and, at the same time, offers the opportunity to participate in the renewables revolution that is sweeping across the UK. We are now very much open for business and we are already attracting customers, both domestic and commercial, looking for high performance, high value products. Wood pellets are a common form of heating fuel in many European countries, where, as an example, Germany now has over 140,000 wood pellet boiler installations. The price is not determined by fossil fuel prices and this gives customers some security about their future heating costs"
Verdo Renewables also has a similar sized production facility in Grangemouth, Scotland, which opened last year. The wood pellets manufactured at Andover and Grangemouth are the first in the UK to receive certification under ENplus, the new Europe wide standard for premium quality wood pellets.
Sir George said "I visited this plant last year and i was asked if I could get a Minister to officially open it. I was delighted that my colleague Greg Barker was able to do this. It is important that Andover has a stake in the renewable energy industry, and I welcome the jobs that Verdo provides."