Friday, 10 August 2007

Tenbury Biomass Project Update

Back in March I wrote a tongue in cheek briefing note about the proposed Power Station scheme, before the project was launched and before much information was available.

Now more facts are known I thought I would revisit my first thoughts.

"Having turned down the plans for the Market Square Veterinary surgery to move to the business park as it was the wrong sort of business,"

It now transpires that a number of businesses that have wanted to move to or buy plots on the business park over the years have been turned down, however the Project Developers say that the Business Park has lain mostly unused for many years.

"do the officers really think that a 40 ft tall power station with a 60 ft chimney is right for an edge of town location."

Well, yes they do. The heights are now shorter than originally indicated.

"So will this monster be viable?"

Yes, so long as the government supports ROCs.

"Will Tenbury become clogged with ever more large lorries?"

Yes, but not with Biomass lorries, they are to route through Bromyard or Kimbolton & Leysters.

"Once upon a time, electricity from biomass (wood burning) power stations was considered so inefficient that unless the heat could be usefully used they were a non-runner."

They still are, but by adding on a wood pellet drying plant and using the 'potential' to sell heat the project can be cost justified.

"Now, because of ‘Corporate Responsibility’ large multinationals such as Tesco, want to buy green but the traditional power generators cannot produce enough ‘green’ energy and are paying over the odds to inefficient power generators with the issue of ‘traded instruments’. The question is what happens when the market matures. This has already happened with Packaging Recovery Notes (another traded instrument) where the cost of issuing the note is now greater than its value. Companies using recycled materials to produce their products whose business model relied on this addition payment are going bust. If this happens in the power generation industry then Tenbury could have a very large White Elephant."

The government has comitted to support ROCs, so that's all right then!

"If the information released so far is correct, the design is already inefficient. If the power station cannot burn a mix of biomass and relies on wood pellets, it is questionable how much of the ‘energy’ produced will be needed to transport and pre-process the wood into pellets."

It seems the Power Station will run on wood chip and the unit next door with produce wood pellets for use elsewhere.

If the technology is now really so good that the Power Station will not be pumping out noxious fumes all over Tenbury and the Teme Valley, why not go to the next stage and build an incinerator that can also burn waste. Tenbury’s waste currently undertakes a long journey, to a processing centre 45 miles away, with many of the recyclable items going on to China. Surely any ‘new’ power station should be able to burn a mix of products from Bio Diesel, to methane from anabolic digesters, to household and trade waste, to biomass from miscanthus, to logs, to shredded pallets., to short crop rotation willow. Is the real reason that the council will jump at any offer, however poorly conceived just their usual unseemly haste at selling all the council owned assets and getting the money out of Tenbury.

The Technology isn't that good, so the plant will only be able to burn clean wood. The waste wood burning plant will probably be in Burford.

The text of the original Tenbury Biomass Project Document is available at

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