The project, which is expected to begin by the end of 2011, will produce up to 15MW of the station’s total output by co-firing with clean wood biomass.

Renewable biomass is carbon neutral, with new growth removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere that the biomass releases when used as fuel. NRG plans to locally source sustainably harvested biomass including forest and wood processing residues for the project.

In 2004, New York established a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Last year, the New York Public Service Commission expanded the RPS goal to increase the proportion of renewable electricity sold in New York from 25% to 30% by 2015.

To meet this goal, NYSERDA conducts solicitations to award contracts for projects that deliver renewable energy to the New York wholesale power market.

In addition to the Dunkirk project, NRG is planning to use biomass as a primary fuel at its Montville Generating Station after re-powering one of the facility’s existing units to produce up to 40MW of electricity.

In Louisiana, NRG has created a 20-acre test site using locally grown switchgrass and sorghum to be used as a biomass fuel at its Big Cajun II plant.

The lessons learnt from these projects could lead to further commercialization of biomass as a fuel across NRG’s flee leading to the reduction of the entire company’s carbon intensity, the company said.

Drew Murphy, president of NRG, Northeast Region, said: ”Adding sustainable biomass to the fuel mix cuts emissions and supports the state’s goal of producing 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

”This project will also create up to 50 processing and transportation jobs in western New York and produce enough electricity to power 12,000 households.”