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We can be sustainable, says Blue-NG

The company behind the UK’s first vegetable oil-fuelled power station insists it can maintain a commitment to only using sustainable sources, even if dozens more similar facilities are established in this country.

Blue-NG, a joint venture between the National Grid and renewable specialist 2OC, will sign a binding legal agreement with Newham council to only use biofuel sourced from sustainable crops at its proposed plant in Beckton, east London.

The project uses a patented Combined Heat and Intelligent Power (CHiP) system to recover energy from the processing of natural gas and was set to receive formal planning approval from the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation earlier this week (June 12).

Once complete, up to 20MW of electrical power could be generated at the site by 2010 and an additional 5MW of thermal power could also link with local district heating schemes.

But campaigners from Biofuelwatch were planning a protest outside Thursday’s meeting to highlight their concerns about the use of biofuels.

Blue-NG chief executive Andrew Mercer said the company had developed its sustainability strategy with Greenpeace UK, which wrote to Newham council in support of the application.

Blue-NG hopes to follow up the Beckton scheme with another in Southall and six more pilot sites ahead of a roll-out to up to 80 more locations.

But, Biofuelwatch said the use of sustainable biofuels will have a knock-on effect within the market and questioned whether other facilities would be equally sustainable.

“We are worried this will set a precedent… we have heard that several larger companies are interested in moving into the sector,” Biofuelwatch spokesperson Almuth Ernsting said.

“We have looked at their procurement policy and we are concerned that there is nothing to say they will not import from outside the European Union.”