The Steven's Croft Power Station near Lockerbie, the largest wood-fired power station in the UK, was officially opened today allowing biomass generation in Scotland on a new scale.

It marks a significant step towards meeting the Scottish Government's targets of generating 50 per cent of electricity from renewable sources and achieving an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. Steven's Croft is a 44MW biomass power plant, burning a mixture of forestry residue and specially grown willow. It is expected to sustain around 300 jobs in the forestry and agriculture sector and to save up to 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

After performing the opening, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Today we put Lockerbie on Scotland's renewable energy map, as the home of the UK's largest wood-fired power station. At a stroke, Steven's Croft more than doubles Scotland's biomass electricity generating capacity from 39 to 83 megawatts.

"It is proof that not only can we generate power from materials previously seen as waste, we can create good quality jobs and improve the sustainable management of our forests. "The power plant will produce enough green energy, from the surrounding forests, to supply up to 70,000 homes - more than 17 times the population of Lockerbie.

"What's more, this plant will give a significant boost to the local economy - 40 jobs here on site and a further 300 jobs that it will support in local forestry, sawmilling and agriculture industries. "Scotland's renewable potential is immense - enough to meet our energy requirements many times over.

Biomass is a growing component of the mix. Steven's Croft Power Station is a great showcase for the role biomass can play in a cleaner, greener Scotland." Frank Mastiaux, Chief Executive of E.ON Climate & Renewables said: "We're delighted that the First Minister could be here today, because Steven's Croft is a pioneering project that offers huge benefits to the local community as well as to the battle against climate change.

"We need a mix of energy sources such as biomass if we're going to succeed in ensuring a secure supply of electricity to keep the lights on while reducing carbon emissions. That's why we're taking the lead and building projects like Steven's Croft, which represents part of a billion pound investment that we're making in the development of renewable energy in the UK over the next five years." The Steven's Croft Power Station is owned and operated by E.ON UK.

The capital cost of the Steven's Croft project is £90 million, including a Big Lottery Grant of £18 million. The project will also benefit from support through the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) Order. The majority of fuel is sourced within a 60 mile radius. Steven's Croft was voted Best Renewable Project at the 2007 Scottish Green Energy Awards. Demand for woody biomass for bio-energy is increasing rapidly. In response to this trend the Environment Minister set up the Woodfuel Task Force to assess potential sources of additional woody biomass in Scotland. The Scottish Government is considering its response to the Task Force report, and this will be published shortly.