UK Biomass Plant Will Gobble Up Imported Wood

An island with relatively sparse domestic energy resources, the United Kingdom has been experimenting mostly with wind power as it attempts to expand its renewable energy portfolio. Indeed, this December, an average of 5.3 percent of the U.K.’s electricity came from wind power, with a record high of 12.2 percent of energy demand derived from wind power on December 28.

But the challenge of balancing the grid with an increasing amount of intermitent power may have led the U.K.’s Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to begin seriously exploring other options. This month, the DECC granted permission for energy and gas company E.On Climate and Renewables to construct a 150-megawatt (MW) biomass plant that will be fueled from imported virgin wood, dedicated crops and local waste wood. The plant will be located at the Royal Portbury Dock in the Port of Bristol in North Somerset.

biomass plant

image via Shutterstock

E.On applied to the DECC for permission to build the plant in August 2009, but the application was delayed as the DECC weighed impacts on the local community and ecosystem. Among the DECC’s concerns listed in the department’s final decision letter were likely noise and visual pollution plant construction would cause to the local community, the need for E.On to safely remove waste ash from the plant during operation, the concern that the plant would be located too close to a nearby fuel importation facility and the larger concern that biomass generation might be less sustainable than other types of clean energy systems.

In addition, the DECC wrote, “a condition should be included to ensure there is no possibility of  conversion to “another less acceptable type of fuel.” Ultimately, the U.K. secretary of state decided that  “any additional adverse visual impacts resulting specifically from the development are outweighed by its benefits,” according to the DECC decision letter.

Shifra Mincer is a freelance journalist and passionate tweeter (@Shiframincer) currently living in Israel. Before moving to Israel to apprentice with a homebirth midwife, Shifra worked as Associate Editor of AOL Energy, and was a member of the launch team that got the site up and running. Shifra has over a half a decade of experience in journalism and has written on women's health, green technology, politics and regulation of the energy industry, energy financial news, and local news. While studying for her B.A. at Harvard College, Shifra worked as a news editor for the Harvard Crimson. Shifra is also a yoga teacher and a birth doula and is hoping to create an active Jewish birth community through her web venture www.layda.org.

  • http://twitter.com/enagri Enagri Bioenergy

     ”The plant is far from the U.K.’s first biomass plants. Since November 2007, the DECC has approved 11 biomass plants, ranging from 53 to 350 MW in size”

    For a more accurate picture of Biomass power devlopments in the Uk have a look at the UK Biomass Directory 2012: http://www.ukbiomassdirectory.enagri.info/

  • green hornet

    giant king grass