Companies plan three U.K. biomass power plants

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Oct. 24, 2008 at 10:31 a.m. CST

Drax Group PLC, the parent company for Drax Power Ltd. and its 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the United Kingdom, has signed a $3.2 billion joint development agreement with Germany-based Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, a group company of Siemens Financial Services, to build, own, and operate three, 300-megawatt dedicated biomass-fired power plants in the U.K.

According to Drax, it will be a 60 percent stake owner in the venture and will manage and operate the biomass business. Drax will also be responsible for all biomass procurement and trading. The plants are expected to use Siemens' turbine technology. All three plants will use the same design and technologies.

Of the three plants, one will be located on a 30-acre site at Immingham in North East Lincolnshire and another on a 40-acre site at Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, according to the company. A third site is being considered, as well as additional land at the existing coal-fired Drax Power Station in the U.K. The sites being considered are deep water port sites. To date no commitments to construction contracts or financing have been; Drax expects to finalize these arrangements over the next 12-18 months, the company said.

Construction for the first plant is expected to begin in 2010 with operations beginning in 2014. According to Drax, it currently provides enough power to meet seven percent of the U.K.'s electricity needs. When all three biomass plants are operational, it's estimated that Drax will be responsible for supplying up to 10 percent of the U.K.'s total electricity.