Kronospan plans to use waste wood from MDF, particleboard production to generate electricity for Chirk, U.K., operation, puts model of proposed 32-MW plant on public display

LOS ANGELES , December 20, 2011 () – Kronospan, a backer of the U.K.'s Wood Panel Industries Federation's "Stop Burning Our Trees" campaign, is putting plans for a wood-to-energy plant at its factory in Chirk, U.K. on public display. The plant will burn waste wood that would otherwise go to landfill to generate electricity for use within the plant, the company said.

Kronospan has not disclosed the cost of the proposed 32-megawatt plant, but said it would create 12 jobs and secure employment for the existing 600 staff, according to a report by BBC News.

The exhibition, which includes a scale model of the plant, opened to the public on Monday afternoon at Chirk Parish Hall. It is part of a wider consultation on whether the plant can go ahead.

Factory director Mike McKenna said the project was a clean operation that would meet the latest European standards. It would begin operating in 2014 at the earliest, he added, and waste would be kept under cover to ensure that no dust was blown from the site.

Kronospan has informed Chirk Town Council about its plans, but has yet to submit a planning application at county level to Wrexham Council.

In October, around 125 workers at the Chirk plant joined a mass protest by employees at wood panel plants across Europe against government subsidies being offered to power companies to burn wood for energy. Wood panel producers say the subsidies encourage power companies to burn newly felled wood rather than waste wood, and are pushing up raw material prices, BBC News reported at the time.

McKenna said subsidies were pricing wood panel manufacturers out of the market. "If we pay £30 for a tonne of timber, the electricity generator will get a subsidy of about £70 for burning that timber to generate electricity," he said.

The Wood Panel Industries Federation, which represents particleboard, MDF and OSB producers, launched its campaign in  November. It aims to pressure the U.K. government into changing its system of subsidies for wood-based power companies.

The primary sources of this article are BBC News, Chirk, U.K., on Dec. 19, 2011 and Oct. 29, 2011.

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