Drax Biomass and Siemens Project Ventures have been given the green light by the UK’s Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, to build two new major biomass plants. In the first instance, Drax Biomass (Selby) Limited has received consent to construct a 299-MW biomass-fuelled power station on land at the existing 4,000-MW Drax Power Station site in Selby, North Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, Drax Biomass (Immingham) Limited has also gained approval to build a 299-MW biomass-fuelled power station at South Killingholme near Immingham in North Lincolnshire.
Commenting on the announced approvals, Charles Hendry said: “It is vital that we get investment in new power stations up and down the country to ensure secure energy supplies for people’s homes and businesses. I am very pleased to give the go-ahead for these two new biomass power stations in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. They will not only enhance our security of supply, but provide low-carbon electricity that reduces our carbon dioxide emissions."
The Ouse Renewable Energy Plant at Selby and the Heron Renewable Energy Plant at Immingham will each produce enough electricity to more than 500,000 homes. During construction, both developments will employ an average of around 600 people on site and have total workforces of around 150 when operational.
The sites at Selby and Immingham were selected as potential locations for dedicated biomass-fired power stations due to their proximity to the existing infrastructure, including connection to the electricity transmission network, water supply and discharge capability and transport facilities. The plants will each consume approximately 1.4 million tonnes of biomass per year (dependent upon the actual types of biomass material used) and are expected to result in a saving of 1,800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each per annum.
“Our venture into dedicated biomass-fired electricity generation underpins our commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of UK electricity production,” says Dorothy Thompson, Chief Executive at Drax.
Although imported biomass will initially make up much of the fuel source, Drax is keen to develop the use of indigenous biomass fuels where available and the company is encouraging the development of local energy crops and other renewable supplies. Drax is also committed to investigating options for increasing the overall efficiency of the plants through the supply of surplus steam and/or heat to local industry or housing.
The plants will be water-cooled, using water from nearby water courses, and biomass fuel will be transferred to the site via conveyors from off-loading facilities. Electricity will be exported from the plant on to the national electricity transmission network.
As part of the planning application process, Drax consulted with the pertinent county councils, the Environment Agency, Natural England, members of the public and a range of other organisations. Feedback from public exhibitions was positive, with a 69.5% approval rate for Immingham and an 81% approval rate for the Selby plant.
While consent to develop the power stations has now been granted by the Energy Minister, any progress with the investment will be dependent on the Government’s final decision on the future support levels under the Renewables Obligation.
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