RWE halts Tilbury biomass project

Tilbury power plant
Tilbury power plant

RWE Npower has shelved its 750 MW biomass project at Tilbury Power Station, citing difficult market conditions and unclear British energy policy.

Tilbury opened as a coal-fired plant in 1969 and in 2008 RWE decided the power station would opt-out from the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), meaning it would shut after 20 000 hours of operation or by the end of 2015.

The plant has temporary been rebuilt to run on biomass before it is opted out of the Large Combustion Plant Directive. It officially closes on 31 October, but is now said to close already in July.

The company applied and was  awarded planning permission for a wholesale refurbishment that would allow Tilbury to re-open as a dedicated biomass plant after the LCPD hours elapsed.

However, the cash-strapped German-owned company decided it was not worth pursuing the project in the current climate.

Roger Miesen, chief technical officer at RWE Generation, said: “It is with regret that we are announcing the decision to halt the Tilbury Biomass project.

“This decision has not been taken lightly. Tilbury remains a good site for future power generation. RWE still believes that biomass has a role to play in future power generation and will continue to progress options at strategic sites.”

Some of the plant’s 220 workers may be offered jobs elsewhere but others will be made redundant.

In a statement, the firm said the biomass trial had been a commercial and technical success. This was despite a fire in 2012 shutting some units down for more than six months.

200 jobs under threat at Tilbury power plant
200 jobs under threat at Tilbury power plant