Saturday, July 13, 2024

Possible jobs boost as RWE npower table planning application for Tilbury power station

RWE npower has submitted local planning applications to Thurrock Council and an environmental permit application to the Environment Agency in order to progress the longer term use of sustainably-sourced wood pellets to generate renewable energy at Tilbury Power Station.

Nigel Staves, Tilbury Power Station Manager said; “In 2011, Tilbury Power Station was the first major coal-fired power station in the world to be converted to run on 100% sustainably sourced wood pellet biomass and since then has served as a unique opportunity to assess the longer-term feasibility of using woods pellets to generate renewable energy at large scale.”

“We are now looking towards the longer term future of Tilbury and our proposals could ensure the use of sustainable biomass at the site and the continued role of Tilbury at the heart of meeting the UK’s energy needs and climate change targets well into the next decade.”

The licences and consents are expected to be decided upon within 9 months.

RWE npower will ensure that all local residents are kept up-to-date with developments.

Here, as a guide, is a q and a from RWE npower regarding the application.

Why have you converted Tilbury to biomass?

We believe that biomass could have an important role to play in the future UK energy mix. To prove that sustainable biomass can play a role in long term carbon reduction, it is crucial to test the technology on large-scale. This is also a unique opportunity to assess the longer-term feasibility of using biomass at this scale.

The project fulfils three key objectives: validating the engineering work required to convert the coal-fired plant to run on biomass; understanding the commercial value of the project; and establishing and managing sustainability across the supply chain. Converting Tilbury to biomass enables us to test the logistics of sourcing large volumes of sustainable wood pellets, allowing us to make informed decisions about the viability of long-term biomass use.

Has converting to biomass reduced greenhouse gas emissions?

The green house gas emissions savings will be at least 70% compared to using coal, with significantly lower SO2, NOx and dust emissions as well.

The conversion from coal to biomass at our Tilbury power station also provides an excellent opportunity to allow more detailed study of the use of this low carbon fuel on a large scale, as well as enabling the further development of this emergent supply chain.

Where is the biomass coming from?

The vast majority (>90%) of the wood pellets are being sourced from North America, either from RWE’s own pelleting plant in Georgia, USA, or from Canada.

The RWE plant in Georgia became operational in May 2011, and produces 750,000te of wood pellets each year. This will have no negative impact on the amount of forest land in Georgia, which has remained constant at approximately 24 million acres since the mid 1930s, and they are producing more wood – almost 9 million tonnes per year – than is being harvested on an annual basis.

The other main source of pellets for Tilbury is British Columbia, Canada. British Columbia has 150 million acres of forest land, and is a leader in voluntary, independent third-party certification, with over 100 million acres accredited to sustainable forest management certification standards at the end of 2006. Most harvesting is carried out for industrial lumber, and feedstock for the wood pellets (e.g. sawdust) is primarily a by-product of the sawmilling process. There are also 17.5 million acres of British Columbian forest that are infected by the Mountain Pine Beetle, making it unsuitable for use in construction. Renewable biomass is considered to be the best use of these trees.

How much biomass will be used at Tilbury?

Tilbury is expected to use around 2.3mt of sustainably sourced wood pellets during its remaining LCPD opt-out hours.

How can you guarantee the wood pellets are sustainable?

The sustainability of wood pellets sourced for Tilbury is being independently assured under accredited schemes such as the Green Gold Label sustainable biomass programme. This is an independently certified system for sustainable biomass and covers the entire lifecycle of biomass, from production, to processing, transport and delivery. The strict sustainability standards apply across the supply chain.

Throughout the conversion we have also undertaken a programme of discussion with key stakeholders to ensure that our management of sustainability issues is of the highest quality.

Converting Tilbury to biomass enables us to test the logistics of sourcing large volumes of sustainable wood pellets, allowing us to make informed decisions about the viability of long-term biomass use.

Does this mean that Tilbury will operate after 2015?

The plant will run on biomass until its scheduled closure under the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), by the end of 2015 or when the remainder of its permitted 20,000 hours of operation under the LCPD have been used.

We are continuing to develop a range of options for the future of the Tilbury site after 2015, including the potential development of biomass options for the site.

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