The British government has given planning consent (‘Section 36’ consent under the terms of the Electricity Act) to the £500 million Teesport Renewable Energy plant in NE England. MGT Power Ltd is developing the plant, one of the largest biomass plants ever to be built, and one of the largest of all renewable energy projects.

The 295 MW facility, which is scheduled to enter commercial operation in 2012, will ‘save’ (ie, avoid the emission of) 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year. That figure will go up if it is decided ultimately to make a CHP plant, a decision not yet taken. It will also create 600 new jobs during the three year construction period and 150 permanent jobs. Backers of the scheme are currently engaged in securing funding.

Infrastructure law specialist Shadbolt LLP is advising MGT Power on the construction aspects of this project. Spokesman Daniel Tain, welcoming the government’s decision, said, ‘This is a benchmark project for the UK renewables energy market, accounting for 5.5% of the UK’s renewable electricity target’.

Chris Moore, director of MGT Power, said ‘Other similarly sized biomass plants are proposed in other parts of the country but our Teesport project is currently two years ahead of the pack and likely to be one of the first to be operational. It comes at a time when replacement UK energy generation capacity is urgently needed. The government’s consent is welcome news as we are at an advanced stage with forestry establishment for fuel sourcing, and power plant procurement. We can now mandate our banks, conclude the financing and reach agreement with our preferred technology bidders. We are moving towards an early construction start with a high degree of confidence.’

The wood chip feedstock will be sourced from certified sustainable forestry projects developed by the MGT team and partners in North and South America and the Baltic States. These projects

can provide a clean burning woodchip, which delivers 95% greenhouse gas savings in comparison to coal or natural gas through the life cycle and does not take away high quality land suitable for food crops.

The granting of consent was timed to coincide with the UK government’s unveiling of its latest low-carbon strategy which maps out a wide range of policies intended to help the country meet its greenhouse gas emission targets.

‘The Tees Renewable Energy Plant brings a range of economic and environmental benefits, not least creating new jobs at Teesport, and

the use of clean technology will help reduce carbon emissions,’ said David Kidney MP, Parliamentary under-secretary at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. ‘Biomass generation, using sustainable sources, is starting to make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy market and will help us reach our renewable targets.’

The proposed plant will use around 2.4 million tonnes of woodchip a year and will operate as a baseload plant, according to MGT Power. ‘This means the Tees Renewable Energy Plant will produce the same amount of renewable electricity over a year as a 1000 MW wind farm’ said the company in a statement.