A slew of new biomass and co-firing projects in the UK suggest that the biomass market may finally be booming

E.On UK has given the final go-ahead for a £90 million (€132 million) 44 MW biomass power station planned for Lockerbie in Scotland.

The plant will be the UK’s largest biomass station when it begins commercial operations, expected in December 2007 and will consume some 220,000 oven-dried tonnes of fuel annually. E.On has also signed a contract with Renewable Fuels Ltd for the supply of 45,000 tonnes of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow wood chip annually within about four years of operation. Renewable Fuels is contracting with farmers and land-owners in Dumfriesshire and Cumbria for the establishment of up to 3,700 hectares of SRC willow over the next 6 years.

Located at Steven’s Croft in a forestry area, a consortium of Siemens and Kvaerner is to build the fluidised bed combustion power station, having first started development of the project in January 2003 and receiving outline planning permission in July 2004. Kvaerner will supply the boiler island while Siemens will supply the steam turbine, generator and balance of plant.

Construction on the Dumfries & Galloway project is expected to begin later this year.

The biggest of the National Lottery distributors, the Big Lottery Fund, supported the development of the new biomass plant with a grant of £18 million (€26.5 million) from the Bioenergy Capital Grants Scheme. However, the facility reciueves no other incentives aside from qualifying under the ROC scheme.

Meanwhile, plans to develop another 23 MW biomass-fired power plant at Winkleigh in north Devon have moved forward with the submission of additional details of the proposed project by developers Peninsula Power. Torridge District Council raised queries over the £43 million (€63 million) project which saw its planning application first submitted in late October last year.

The plant will use some 70,000 tonnes of Miscanthus grass, forestry products, clean waste wood, cellulosic fibres, and other biomass per year. The proposed site is an 8-acre parcel of land on the former Winkleigh Airfield which was decommissioned in 1953.

A final decision on the application is expected before the year’s end.

Earlier this year also saw the news that SembCorp Utilities will invest £60 million (€88.2 million) to build a new wood-fuelled biomass plant at the Wilton International site in Teesside, UK.

Known as ‘Wilton 10’, the 30 MW facility is expected to become operational by mid-2007. Wilton 10 will be fuelled with around 300,000 tonnes of specially grown wood as well as wood from conventional forestry, sawmill chips and recycled timber per year.

Around £10 million (€14.7 million) of the investment in Wilton 10 will come from a grant made under the UK Government’s Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme. The remaining investment of around £50 million (€73.5 million) will be financed by a combination of internal funds and long-term project finance.