Simec Atlantis intends to break its 220MW Uskmouth coal conversion project into two 110MW phases.
The firm said it had made the decision after talking to financiers and “having adjusted for current expected COVID disruption”.
The aim is to build one unit and then start the other “as soon as possible” after the first is commissioned.
The former coal power station appears to be inching closer to commercial reality following successful large scale burn tests of the waste pellets by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems.
Achieving financial close at Uskmouth requires planning, permitting and consenting. CEO Tim Cornelius said last month that those aspects are “going very well,” and that he hoped Newport Council will make a decision on its application by Q4 this year.
However, the company indicated financial close on the project will take longer, aiming for late Q1 or early Q2.
Converting the plant would then take 18 months, Simec estimates, which means the earliest it could be generating is late 2022 – if all goes to plan.
Cornelius said the decision to break into two chunks is so it can start earning money from generation sooner rather than later.
“The decision to phase the conversion into two stages is prudent as it de-risks supply chain timelines, fuel supply and most importantly the timeline to first electrons exported to the grid and therefore revenue generation,” he said.
In the meantime, the firm is scoping out the potential to build data centres next to the site and has engaged developer TechRE to explore options for both large and small data centres – that would be anchor tenants for the power station’s output via private wire.
The company hopes to take a similar approach in Scotland, touting private wire deals via an expanded tidal array at its MayGen development.
Simec Atlantis shares fell by almost a fifth on the announcement, having climbed significantly in recent weeks.