Largest U.K. biomass plant gains approval

By Jerry W. Kram
Port Talbot, a deep-water port on the south coast of Wales, become home to the largest biomass-fueled electrical plant in the United Kingdom. In November, the plant received regulatory approval to begin construction. The project will be run by London-based Prenergy Power Ltd. The 350-megawatt plant will produce enough electricity to power half the homes in Wales and deliver 70 percent of the renewable energy target for 2010 set by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Construction of the wood-chip-fueled plant will begin in early 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2010. The capital cost of the plant is estimated at 400 million ($793.2 million). It expects to hire 150 full-time employees. Port Talbot's deep-water harbor will allow feedstocks to be brought in by ship, which the company said is the most benign and environmentally efficient form of bulk transport. Prenergy Director Matthew Carse said the fuel would come from independently certified, sustainable forestry projects, ensuring that the project will be carbon-neutral.

A 101-megawatt combined-heat-and-power facility owned by Slough Heat and Power Ltd. in Slough, England, is currently the largest biomass-powered generator in the U.K. It was acquired by Scottish and Southern Energy PLC in January for 49.25 million ($97.7 million). SSE is the U.K.'s second-largest energy supplier.