Biomass boost for Hull as sector enters period of RHI uncertainty
A £35m biomass plant is set to provide clean energy to more than 11,000 homes in Hull when it becomes operational next year, using 'best available technology' (BAT).
The innovative 22MW facility – details of which were announced today (4 March) – will utilise a fluidised bed combustion and heat recovery system, which claims to burn biomass more efficiently than comparable methods. The system can be retrofitted to gas compressor plants and peaking gas turbines to recover energy which is otherwise wasted.
According to technology provider HRS Energy, the process used could potentially deliver new levels of efficiency performance to biomass power plant infrastructure worldwide. The development will be the first in a pipeline of projects HRS Energy is set to work on, both in the UK and abroad.
The system will also be manufactured in Hull – as well as further minimising costs and emissions, the project is set to create 80 new jobs in the local area. The plant is expected to be operational by March 2017.
The plant has the full backing of Hull East MP Karl Turner, who said the project would build on Hull’s reputation as a world leader in providing clean energy. “This £35m investment into the local area shows that companies have confidence that Hull is the place to do business and has the work force to deliver,” Turner said.
The news also comes as a welcome boost for the biomass sector following the shock announcement by the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) that non-domestic biomass boiler tariffs could be reduced by up to 98% by 2017 under its proposed reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
The sector now faces a prolonged period of uncertainty, and already reports are emerging of some schemes being quietly abandoned – such as University of East Anglia’s £10.5m woodchip plant, which was intended to power much of the campus. The power station, hailed as one of the Government’s most ambitious biomass schemes, was meant to cut the university’s carbon emissions by one-third when announced in 2007. According to a UEA spokesman, the unit is providing energy to the campus, but using natural gas rather than woodchip.