Octopus stretches its tentacles around 86 MWp at two East of England biomass plants

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Fast-growing integrated power supplier Octopus Renewables has taken its generation capacity to £3bn worth of assets, as it buys two biomass generators in East Anglia and Lincolnshire.

Backing the deal announced yesterday are Danish investors Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and consulting engineers Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor.  Neither the sellers nor financial terms were disclosed.

The acquired UK facilities have a joint capacity of 85.7MW.  They will add to Octopus Renewables’ five other biomass plants, part of its UK generating fleet. Together with solar and wind farms, Octopus values its UK assets at over £3 billion, ranking it, it claims, as the country’s biggest independent investor in onshore wind and solar PV.

Employing 80 people, the firm’s further plants in France, Italy, Ireland, Scandinavia & Australia bring the clean power capacity of its worldwide portfolio to 2.8GW.

Biomass accounts for just over a quarter of Octopus Renewables’ capability. That share is equalled by wind, and exceeded by solar PV, which accounts for 31% of the company’s capacity.

Octopus Renewables claims to have secured since May 2017 mandates from pension funds and insurance firms to deploy £800 million worth of renewables assets in the UK.

Part of that is £250 million authorised by Nest, specialist manger of £16 billion in workplace pensions.  Last month the pair inked a deal, envisaging further renewable investment.

Stephen O’Neill, Nest’s head of private markets greeted yesterday’s deal. “We’re delighted to have our account with Octopus Renewables up and running”,  he said.

“Biomass is an exciting technology,” O’Neill observed.  ”Energy crops such as miscanthus could play a significant role in the UK hitting its carbon emission targets. We want to continue investing in the energy of the future and looking ahead for what opportunities will be presented in the drive to the low-carbon economy.”

Octopus has committed itself to burning locally sourced organic material in the new plants it will manage.   Its practice contrasts with Britain’s biggest biomass operation, the 2.6GW-rated Drax furnaces in north Yorkshire.  Drax Group imports American pellets through the ports of Hull and Liverpool.

Two weeks ago Drax completed the purchase of the world’s second biggest feedstock supplier Pinnacle Renewable Energy.

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