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In Cumbria: Cumbrian skills praised at Iggesund biomass launch


Cumbria has the skills, workforce, and ideal environment to make it an attractive investment opportunity for business, a government minister said.


Baroness Verma, a member of the House of Lords and junior minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, was speaking at the inauguration of a £108m biomass combined heat and power plant at Iggesund's paperboard mill at Workington.

The plant, which took two years to build and was completed in March, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the plant by more than 190,000 tonnes a year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 65,000 cars each driven 20,000 kilometres.

The biomass boiler uses energy from the combustion process to heat water into steam which powers a turbine to generate electricity.

The same steam is extracted and then re-used to heat the drying cylinders in the board machine's drying section.

It ensures the paperboard mill, which employs 400 people, is self sufficient in terms of its energy supply.

There is also a surplus of energy which can be supplied as renewable energy to the national grid and there are also hopes it can be used to heat homes in the Workington area.

Baroness Verma, who travelled up from Leicester for the ceremony, said: "I am thrilled to be here. What you are doing here is crucial."

She said that the UK was an ideal place for such investment and highlighted the forthcoming Energy Bill.

She said: "This country offers great skills, a great place to invest, and great certainty for your investment. This is a state of the art plant.

"This is a most beautiful part of the UK to invest in. It is a place where we need to come and invest. It has the skills, the workforce and the ideal environment, and the government is making sure you get the economic and political environment in which to invest."

Fredrik Lundberg, chairman of the Holmen Board, said of the biomass combined heat and power plant, "this is the single biggest investment at the Workington site so far." He described it as a "stepping stone for continued development and brand leadership."

Mr Lundberg said paper products can have "the most sustainable systems in existence".

He said the biomass boiler was economic, provided a stable electricity supply and met climate change aims by reducing emissions.

He also said it gave the plant a new product, as well as its high quality Incada paperboard - "saleable energy".

When there are stoppages in paperboard production, such as at night or during winter maintenance, there is an inverse opportunity for the sale of surplus energy from the biomass plant.

Mr Lundberg said the company's well managed forests meant there was a solid foundation for the business.

Wood for the Workington site comes from the north of England and Scotland with some shipped to the Port of Workington from Oban and Mull.

Mr Lundberg said there was an opportunity for farmers across Cumbria to manage energy crops, such as willow, for the biomass boiler.

And he praised all those associated with the Workington plant. "The Workington Mill is a splendid example of how (to combine) the economics, the environment, sustainability and intelligent thinking."

Magnus Hall, president and chief executive of Holmen, the parent company of Iggesund, said: "The future is all about being sustainable."

He said the focus would continue to be on the high performing, high quality Incada paperboard products manufactured at Workington.

Iggesund Paperboard UK managing director Ola Schultz-Eklund, said "quality" was the ethos through the company and its processes.

"We think 'quality' in everything we do. We try to do things first time right."

He said the location of the Siddick plant, in such close proximity to a bird sanctuary, the coast, and the Lake District, showed the team at Iggesund was adapting to challenging circumstances both today and in the future.

The biomass boiler had seen the plant change from fossil fuel to being completely powered by bioenergy.

Mr Schultz-Eklund, who is leaving in a couple of months after 12 years at the Workington site, has enjoyed his time Cumbria. "I am pleased to live and work in Cumbria, in this fantastic place," he said.

He is proud of the company's health and safety record, of its high quality products, and of its sustainability.

He thanked Holmen Board for its support, suppliers, stakeholders and politicians. He concluded: "First and foremost I thank my colleagues and friends for their commitment."

The inauguration event finished with guests, who included those in the energy sector, colleagues from partner industries in the UK, Sweden and Finland, staff, councillors, and representatives from the local community, given a tour of the biomass boiler and the paperboard plant.