Top 10 biomass generators
Drax power station, UK
Owner - Drax Group plc
Total capacity - 4,000MW
The Drax power station, near Selby, North Yorkshire, has the single-largest capacity of any power station in the UK — and it’s one of the largest in Europe. At one time solely coal-fired, the plant converted one of its generators to run on compressed wood pellets in 2013. A second power unit was upgraded the following year, with a third expected to be completed in 2017. As it stands, 70 percent of the plant’s total electricity output is provided by the new biomass generators.
The wood pellets used to fuel the Drax plants are made from low-grade wood, like forest thinnings and waste from sawmills and agricultural processes. It’s then transported from Drax Group’s North American production facilities to the UK.
Alholmens Kraft , Finland
Owner - Oy Alholmens Kraft
Capacity - 265MW
Alholmens Kraft is located at the site of the Finnish pulp, paper and timber manufacturer UPM-Kymmene in western Finland’s Ostrobothnia region. The plant has been in operation since January of 2002. It supplies an additional 100MW of heat for the paper mill as well as 60MW used for homes and businesses in the nearby town of Jakobstad.
The plant’s steam boiler utilises wood-based materials as fuel, as well as peat moss. Coal is also used as a reserve fuel.
Owner - Engie
Capacity - 205MW
In 2013, French utility Engie — then known as GDF Suez — debuted the massive Polaniec power station in south-east Poland. The plant is fuelled by a mixture of agricultural and tree-farming by-products. The plant is said to provide enough electricity to 600,000 households annually, and prevents 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
Atikokan Generating Station, Canada
Owner - Ontario Power Generation
Capacity - 205MW
Canada’s coal-fired Atikokan Generating Station was converted into a biomass plant in a two year project completed in the summer of 2014. The firm which owns and operates the plant, Ontario Power Generation, opted to use wood pellets as fuel because the energy content is similar to that of the coal that the facility was initially designed to burn. As a result, much of the equipment could be easily adapted during the conversion.
New Hope Power Partnership, USA
Owner - New Hope Power Partnership
Capacity – 140MW
Based at South Bay, Florida, the New Hope Power Partnership is one of the most significant biomass projects in the country and has an installed capacity of 140MW.
The power plant burns sugar cane fibre (bagasse) as well as recycled urban wood for electricity generation. The power output of the plant is used for processing sugar cane as well as for supplying electricity to around 60,000 homes. It sells 500,000 Mwh of electricity per year to the wholesale markets and provides process steam to the Okeelanta Sugar Mill and Refinery.
Maasvlakte 3, Netherlands
Owner – E.ON
Total capacity – 1,070MW
Although predominantly coal fired, Maasvlakte 3 still burns a substantial amount of wood chips to generate power. Currently the plant supplies around seven percent of the Netherlands’ domestic requirements – analysts predict that around 20 percent of the output will eventually be generated by biomass, with the raw materials having to be delivered by ship. Maasvlakte is a harbour and industrial district near Rotterdam.
Rodenhuize Power Station, Belgium
Owner – Bilfinger
Capacity – 180MW
Opened in 2011, Rodenhuize is a converted coal power station located in Ghent. Now firing 100 percent biomass, the plant offsets around 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year and generates enough electricity to power 320,000 homes. Electrabel has signed a long-term agreement for the supply of 225,000 tonnes of biomass a year to the plant, a key part of Belgium’s plan to generate 20 percent of its energy via renewable sources by 2020.
Manjimup Biomass Power Station, Australia
Owner – WA Biomass
Capacity – 40MW
Although not yet complete, the Manjimup project is an important step for Australia in terms of its adoption of biomass as a viable renewable energy source. The 40MW capacity will power 50,000 homes and is located around 300 kilometres south of Perth. Manjimup is strategically located within the existing South West timber region, with good access to plantation timber.
Vaskiluodon Voima Oy, Finland
Owners – EPV Energia Oy and Pohjolan Voima Oy
Capacity – 140MW
The CFB gasifier for Vaskiluodon Voima Oy was built in response to the critical need to reduce the environmental load of traditional coal-fired power plant. As a result, 40 percent less coal is now used at the site and biomass alone can generate enough power to heat 10,000 homes during the bitterly cold Finnish winters. Valmet completed the conversion project in late 2012.
Tees Renewable Energy Plant, UK
Owners – Macquarie and PKA
Capacity – 299MW
A new 299 MW biomass fuelled combined heat and power project is set to be built on land within the Teesport Estate near Middlesbrough in North East England. Site preparation is underway, with main construction works starting in a few months. Commercial operations are due to start in 2020.
The project will cost approximately £650m to construct and will be built under a turn-key engineering, procurement and construction contract by a consortium of Tecnicas Reunidas of Spain and Samsung Construction and Trading (SCT) of South Korea.