Plans to convert a coal fired power station at Tilbury to a wood burning biomass plant could mean it stays open after 2015 – the date it’s due to close – says RWE npower.
RWE npower has plans to alter the plant so that it runs on wood pellets, as reported by Utility Exchange last November. Converting the power station, which generates around 1050MW of electricity, to a biomass plant, may mean the power station can stay open after 2015.
Tilbury power station will be converted over the summer to burn biomass and in doing so it will become the largest wood burning plant in the UK.
European laws would have meant the plant had to close at the end of 2015 or after a given number of operational hours had been reached. This European acid rain directive will mean that nine power stations in the UK will have to close at the end of 2015 or convert to a low carbon fuel.
Dan Meredith, a spokesman for RWE npower, said “What we’re planning to do for the last few years of its life is see if we could convert it. We want to see if the technology is feasible. Using this kind of fuel on this scale hasn’t been done before. It makes business sense”.
Drax power station in South Yorkshire has had plans to build biomass plants at its South Yorkshire site for some time but as Utility Exchange reported back in August, the plans have been delayed over concerns about the profitability of biomass plants.
However, it seems npower doesn’t share these worries. Mr Meredith said the biomass plant at Tilbury would help to uncover any technical problems that the new biomass technology may face.
If biomass doesn’t work out there is always the option of building a gas fired power station on the Tilbury site but it’s hoped that npower will benefit from funding through the Renewable Obligation Certificate which places an obligation on UK energy suppliers to generate more electricity from sources of renewable energy and which now covers biomass.