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Prime Minister opens BCA biomass facility

The UK’s first biomass training facility at a further education college was opened by the Prime Minister on Friday.

The Energy Centre at the Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) is the result of a collaboration between the college, the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and LC Energy, a biofuel and renewable energy firm.

Mrs May praised the contribution the college was making to future renewable energy targets, and drew attention to the opportunities that institutions like BCA offer the next generation of Britain’s workforce.

The Prime Minister said: “Training young people in the skills needed for this new area of the economy is excellent.”

Gillian May, principal at BCA, said: “We already have two biomass boilers and engine rooms on campus. The addition of this new centre provides the facility for the development of professionally recognised training.”

The LEP funded the refurbishment and development of the site, which cost £250,000, and its chairman, Peter Read, said he thought its contribution will pay dividends in the future.

He said: “Investment in colleges in Berkshire is a key priority in our strategic economic plan, which identifies investment in skills as a fundamental pillar of local economic growth.”

BCA enrolled 12 new apprentices last month and it is hoped that associated programmes in biofuel engineering and related skills will prove equally popular.

It is hoped that the investment in the centre will fill a significant skills gap in the field.

Mark Lebus, CEO of LC Energy added: “The renewable energy sector offers sustainable employment but currently lacks accredited training and skills.

“By widening access to training, we can eliminate the skills shortage and play our part in creating a Britain fit for the future.”

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