Teeside plant will use 2.5 million tonnes of wood chip to power 600,000 homes
A collaboration between a UK biomass company, an Australian investment banking and financial services group, and a Danish pension fund, will result in the world’s largest biomass plant being built at Teesport in the North East. The £650 million plant will create 600 jobs during its construction and 100 permanent jobs once operational in 2020 and many more in related supply industries.
More homes and businesses are turning to Biomass in order to combat fluctuating fossil fuel prices and to provide heat and hot water to their homes and premises in a more eco-friendly way.
Huge power output
The new plant, to be situated on land close to the main southern dock at Teesport on the River Tees near Middlesbrough, will dwarf the power outputs of other biomass plants already operating in the North East area. Generating 300 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 600,000 homes, the plant will be fed around 2.5 million tonnes of wood chip per year primarily imported from the United States and Europe.
It’s claimed the Tees REP (Renewable Energy Plant) will make a 1% contribution to the UK’s legally binding renewable energy target of 15% of all energy consumed by 2020. The new plant is expected to save around 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 gasses each year by replacing gas and coal with renewable energy for power creation.
The new plant is guaranteed a fixed price for the electricity it will produce through the government’s Contract for Difference (CfD) arrangement.
Funding and delays
The original plan for the new plant was approved by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council back in 2008 and given government consent the following year with costs then estimated at £500 million. Alterations in the plant design and a change in the funding structure caused delays and an increase in cost to £650 million.
There’s a true multinational flavour in the construction and ownership of the Tees REP; Australian investment bank and financial services company the Macquarie Group and Danish pension fund PKA are funding the project with British biomass company MGT Power.
Construction is being handled by a consortium of Spanish contractor and power generation facility constructor Técnicas Reunidas, and South Korean global engineers and constructors Samsung Construction and Trading (SCT).
Boost for the North East
Not surprisingly, such a huge plant will bring many benefits to an area already well represented through biomass power production. For example, Teesport will gain from the increased sea traffic from vessels delivering the wood chip to the plant and complements the recent developments in the port’s infrastructure made by its owner, PD Ports.
The local authority, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, are delighted with the Tees REP. Councillor Dale Quigly talked glowingly of the benefits of such a huge undertaking in the area, saying it will: “bring high quality jobs to the people in our borough”.
Careful use of renewable sources
The woodchips fuelling the Tees REP are produced primarily from the by-products of the timber sawing industry and are sourced from commercial forestry which is then re-established, thus ensuring sustainability. MGT are pledging to conduct regular third party audits to ensure sustainability is maintained by their wood chip suppliers.
There are some greenhouse gasses associated with producing and transporting wood chips from the US and Europe to Teeside, but these are far lower than the equivalent gasses produced in, for example, coal production. MGT quote figures of 180 gCO2e/kWh for biomass compared to 800 to 1000 gCO2e/kWh for coal.
The North East: a biomass centre
Biomass power production is certainly catching on in the UK with the North East being a particular focus. There are plants either operational or under construction in areas such as Billingham, County Durham, other parts of Teeside and Northumberland.
Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?
The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?
The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.
Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.
The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.
Introducing New Technology
The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.
- To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
- Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
- Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.
How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy
Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.
The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.
The Internet of Things
Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.
Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.
It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)
The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.
4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy
Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.
However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?
A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.
1. Boulder Nissan
When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:
- Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
- They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
- Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.
This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.
2. Valley Electric Association
In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.
“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”
The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.
This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.
3. Las Vegas Casinos
A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.
“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”
There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.
4. Boston College
Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.
Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.
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