Simec hires Drax expert to convert Uskmouth coal plant to energy from waste

Rowe: an alternative to decommissioning coal

Simec Atlantis Energy has hired former Drax conversion manager Ernie Rowe to spearhead conversion of the Uskmouth coal power station to a 220MW energy from waste (EfW) plant.

The company thinks conversion to EfW could deliver a second life for coal-fired power stations. In the UK, unabated coal has to come off the system by 2025.

In a market update, the firm, part of billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, said it hopes to produce power from the plant by the end of 2020. It will burn biomass waste and waste derived from non-recyclable plastic.

The company is involved in a joint venture to create pellets from refuse-derived waste and solid-recovered fuel. It calls this fuel ‘Subcoal’ and claims it will deliver an average calorific value of 20 mega joules per kg.

If the conversion is successful, Simec Atlantis believes it may act as a prototype for future conversions of coal plant to EfW that can also burn the Subcoal pellets.

The company said it will shortly announce the results of the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the station, before tendering for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC).

The project is “of huge international interest,” said head of conversion, Ernie Rowe. “With governments and utilities around the world being forced to close down coal-fired power stations, this conversion will offer a new alternative to decommissioning.”

Chief executive Tim Cornelius said the plant has a 20-year PPA and 20-year fuel supply agreement in place.

“It will have a lower levelised cost of generation which will allow us to deliver high margins on power sales,” he said. “This should be a very profitable project for the SAE Group once it is operational in 2020.”

Cornelius said cash generated from power sales would be used to fund other projects and acquisitions.

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