Simec Atlantis Energy has awarded planning and management contracts in relation to its proposed conversion of the Uskmouth coal power station to a 220MW energy from waste plant.
The company plans to use a new type of fuel pellet called ‘subcoal’ developed with partner N+P Group.
N+P says it intends to convert 1.3m tonnes of waste paper, card and plastic into some 900,000 tonnes of pellets at UK production facilities that it is building. While the pellets must be fully proven to work in large power stations, Simec chief executive Tim Cornelius claims the pellets “burn as clean as natural gas” and suggests they will “be very disruptive in the waste-to-energy and alternative fuel sectors”.
If they work at Uskmouth, the UK’s oldest and least efficient plant when closed by SSE in 2014, the theory is that they will work anywhere. Meanwhile, Simec will have secured another source of baseload for its UK steel operations and can sell power and balancing services, as well as the pellets
The company hopes to commence power production at Uskmouth by the end of 2020. It has awarded an environmental planning and permitting (EPP) contract for both the power station conversion and the pellet facility to consultancy RPS. The fuel plant will convert around 600,000 tonnes of waste into pellets to be burnt by the power station.
While biomass burners such as Drax attract criticism by those that argue burning wood from hardwood forests is not sustainable – which Drax refutes, stating that the pellets it burns come only from waste wood – Simec states its fuel stock “is composed of non-recyclable-waste (card, paper, biogenic and plastic) otherwise destined for landfill. They are not virgin wood pellets”.
If ‘subcoal’ works at Uskmouth, the companies intend to export the technology worldwide to convince more coal plant owners to instead burn the pellets.