BARRY’S biomass energy plant is set to be fully operational in the spring.

Managers of the Biomass UK No. 2 Ltd gasification plant in Woodham Road, Barry Dock, say the plant will produce enough green energy to power 23,000 homes.

And they hope it will be up and running later this year.

They have also played down fears over noise and pollution caused by the plant, adding that it will abide by environmental standards set in their permit.

The site will employ up to 20 members of staff.

But campaigners say Barry Biomass will increase air pollution even if it meets industrial standards.

They are also opposing plans for the gasification facility to receive a subsidy from Ofgem, paid for by energy bill payers.

Welsh Government still to decide whether an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed.

Site manager Mark Bull said: “We have been issued the environmental permit and intend to comply with everything it asks.”

The gasification plant heats, but not burns, waste wood chippings at above 950C until it becomes a gas called syngas which is then combusted to produce a high temperature flue gas which passes through a heat recovery system.

That gas is then channelled into a boiler and turned into steam, which then passes through a turbine generator to produce electricity. Main pollutants from the site are nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, tiny dust particles and acid gases. These pollutants are passed through a pollutant control system before they come out.

The plant says emissions will meet EU-set limits and that it uses a different technology to incineration – where waste is burned in a furnace. There are around 20 similar gasification plants in the UK. Mr Bull said it was “entirely natural” for people to have concerns but he hoped Barry Biomass would be accepted by the community.

Mr Bull added: “We are really excited that Barry Biomass can finally begin the production of clean electricity.”

“The team has been working hard on-site to get everything ready.

“This will not only benefit people across the country who will be using renewable energy, but also benefit the environment as it will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

“We want to assure residents and businesses across Barry that all emissions from the plant are rigorously cleaned.

“This ensures that the emissions are not harmful to people, animals and the environment and meets regulatory limits.

“We will continue to monitor this.

“We are part of the Barry community and proud to be so.

“We want to operate in a way that benefits everyone.” Barry Biomass, owned by a consortium of private investors and managed by Aviva Investors, would use waste wood, mainly from building sites, which would otherwise go to landfill.

Energy from the site would be sent directly into the local network in Barry.

Richard Frearson, of Power Consulting Midlands, which built and controls the equipment on site, said: “Because we’re generating electricity here, somewhere a coal fire power station doesn’t have to generate that electricity.”

He said wood will be diverted away from landfill due to the site, and the power would connect to the local grid, which means less infrastructure.

Noise levels would be kept at four decibels above background noise, managers of the plant say.

Upgraded ‘quieter’ equipment, such as £360,000 ultra-low noise emitting fans in the air condenser, have been installed on the site to keep the noise down, the managers say.

Sound monitors have also been installed close to the facility to monitor noise levels.