WHAT do you do when you have more waste wood than you know what to do with?

Well, the bosses at one firm have decided the answer is to build their own multi-million pound wood-fuelled power station.

Basingstoke Skip Hire and Southern Waste Management fired up their £3million combined heat and power biomass boiler on January 2.

The Italian-made electricity-generating boiler burns 36 tons of waste wood per day. The wood comes from old commercial pallets that in the past would have gone to landfill. The biomass boiler generates 700kw of electricity every hour to the National Grid which is enough electricity to power 1,483 homes.

Company director Laurie Hughes, 41, believes the move is an important part of the company’s future. “The main idea was to create green energy and reuse our wood and save it from landfill,” she said. “The bulk of the UK’s waste wood is shipped abroad to places like Belgium. It’s a crying shame really because we are giving all this wood for Belgium to use for its own green energy.”

Before the power station went live, Basingstoke Skip Hire was transferring wood processed at its depot in Wade Road to a similar plant in Slough.

It was estimated that 300, 120-mile trips to Slough each year created 63,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The new facility means wood only has to travel from Wade Road to the plant in Armstrong Road on the Daneshill Industrial Estate. There, shredded woodchips are fed into the biomass boiler and set on fire.

Smoke and gasses from burning wood- chips reaches 930 degrees Celsius which heats 11,000 litres of pressurised water in a heat exchanger to 134 degrees Celsius.

The water passes through a second heat exchanger where specialised refrigerant is turned into steam. The steam drives six turbines spinning at a whopping 25,000rpm – creating electricity for the National Grid.

The smoke created by the burning woodchips is then treated in four pods which use ceramic “candles” to strip out pollutants.

Pollutants and ash are collected and sold for industrial uses – such as cement mix and road construction.

The project manager behind the scheme, Matt Hughes, 41, said that the boiler is the first step in upping the firm’s green credentials.

He said the company plans to install electricity panels on the premises roof, and supply hot water from the plant to neighbouring businesses.

“It’s been hard work over the past three years, getting to this stage,” he said. “We have learned on the job and it is still a work in progress.

“There are a lot of things we still want to do to make the company greener and more efficient.”