The UK remains targeted towards generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and also to reduce emissions from coal fired power stations. Power stations such as Drax near Selby are, therefore, looking to convert all or part of their operations to burn biomass.
Drax currently imports about 1 million tonnes of wood pellets per year through the Port of Tyne and is using these to generate 10% of its electricity. As one of the UK’s major deep sea ports the Port of Tyne is ranked as the UK’s fourth largest coal-handling port. In 2010 the Port commissioned Europe’s largest wood pellet handling and storage facility. It invested over £20million in the facility and also deepening the berths to handle larger cargo ships and upgrading the rail link from the Port to the East Coast main line to make onward transport to Drax easier and “greener.”
Now the Port of Tyne plans to extend its facilities for handling wood pellets by investing £180million in its operations at Tyne Dock, South Tyneside.
Associated British Ports has also announced that it is going to handle large volumes of biomass, having appointed Graham Construction to build the “UK’s most technically-advanced” biomass handling terminal at the Port of Immingham. The new facilities, to be known as “Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal,” are expected to handle 3 million tonnes of wood pellets per year, which will be used in the £100million ‘50/50’ biomass conversion project at Drax power station.
Once completed, the 11.5-acre facility at Immingham will be a fully automated bulk-handling terminal. It will be able to store up to 100,000 tonnes of wood pellets, with four storage silos having a total capacity of 168,000 cubic metres, equivalent to more than 60 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is expected to be completed towards the end of 2014.
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