Northern Ireland-based wood pellet manufacturer Balcas is to construct a new GBP24 biomass power project in the Scottish Highlands, it has been announced.

The planned facility at Invergordon will include a combined heat and power (CHP) plant generating green energy that will be supplied direct to the grid. Balcas will also use the new plant as a manufacturing facility that will produce wood pellets. These pellets can in turn be used to generate power.

Balcas plans to develop the facility on the former Alcan smelter site at Invergordon. Balcas is already the largest UK manufacturer of wood pellets, which are marketed under the company’s Brites brand. Its largest site is at Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh, where the company has built a high-efficiency CHP plant using surplus sawdust and woodchips to generate heat and electricity.

The total project cost, including the CHP plant and the wood pellet manufacturing plant, will be GBP24 million. Highlands and Islands Enterprise will provide GBP5.5 million towards the total project costs.

The decision by Balcas to build a new biomass plant in Invergordon is good news for the economy and good news for the environment, said Scotland’s first minister, Jack McConnell. Scotland’s devolved government is determined to support renewable energy for economic and environmental reasons. Biomass has a vital role to play and Balcas’ new plant will be a major step forward for the industry.