Biofuelwatch releases critical report on Biomass Power Station Gasification Proposal in Milford Haven

Biofuelwatch press release for immediate use:  17 February 2016

Biofuelwatch releases critical report on Biomass Power Station Gasification Proposal in Milford Haven

An environmental campaigning organisation has today published a report [1] on a biomass gasification power plant proposed by Egnedol in Milford Haven, [2] claiming that it is a “high-risk, unproven technology,” and casting serious doubt on the company’s ability to successfully operate such a plant.

Biofuelwatch’s report highlights how similar attempts to build gasifiers in the UK have failed, [3] and outlines the health and safety risks associated with the technology.  It also points to the fact that Egnedol has no track record with any power station scheme, anywhere, ever, and has provided no evidence of having any expertise in operating such an unproven and highly challenging technology.

Egnedol , a Cypriotic-Welsh company, has announced that they will submit a planning application to Pembrokeshire Council for a 49.9 MW power station which would gasify around 400,000 tonnes of wood a year.[4]  This application forms part of a much larger project, which Egnedol estimate would increase the power station capacity to 350 MW and include a wide range of business activities, such as fish and prawn farms, using the waste heat from the plant.[5]  No gasification plant of this type and scale exists anywhere in the world.  As Biofuelwatch’s report shows, another UK company’s attempt to use gasification technology, albeit on a smaller scale, resulted in hundreds of breaches of their air emissions permit, dozens of noise complaints, an explosion and a fire.

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch Co-Director and author of the report explains: “Our briefing exposes Egnedol as a company with no proven track record of delivering any projects at all, let alone ones involving unproven and challenging new technologies. It is important that local residents, the planning department and Councillors fully understand the public health risks involved in trying to operate such a plant.”

Egnedol state that half of the power station’s energy will be generated from waste wood, which is usually chemically treated and emits dangerous pollutants into the air when gasified.  They say the remainder will be imported “super trees,” grown in plantations in Morocco and Greece.  However, the website of the company that Egnedol claims it will source these trees from, shows that they are still waiting for permission to plant such trees in Greece and have no current plans to plant any in Morocco.

Campaigners are calling for the proposal to be rejected.  Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, Gareth Chubb said:  “The people of Pembrokeshire won’t like being guinea pigs for an unproven technology with uncertain risks to human health using wood from non-existent forests.  Companies like Egnedol have talked up this type of proposal for a long time but we’ve never seen a successful venture of this nature in the UK.  This proposal should be rejected.”

Biofuelwatch’s report which highlights Egnedol’s claims that hundreds of jobs will be created; may well come to nothing.  The vast majority of the 560 jobs which Egnedol claim they will create would come from the additional business activities are inviable without an uninterrupted supply of waste heat.  Prawns and warm-water fish, for example, would instantly die if the gasifier had to be shut down for unplanned repairs – yet, as the report shows, frequent shut downs and repairs are the norm, not the exception, for gasification power plants.

ENDS

 Contacts:

Report Author:  Almuth Ernsting                 0131 623 600                                    biofuelwatch@ymail.com

Media:  Louise Somerville Williams            01458 837 987 / 07762 557184    louise@biofuelwatch.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

[1] Biofuelwatch, a not for profit organisation, has undertaken research on Egnedol’s plans to build a biomass gasification plant in Milford Haven and you can read what they discovered here: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2016/Blackbridge-report

[2] http://www.egnedol.co.uk/

[3] The gasification technology which Egnedol propose to use involves exposing wood to high temperatures with controlled oxygen, which turns most of the chemicals in the wood into wood gas.  The wood gas is then to be cleaned of any impurities and that cleaned up gas, called syngas, would be burned in gas engines to generate electricity.  Major technical problems include avoiding a build-up of tars which can clog up vital equipment and cleaning the gas sufficiently to be burned in gas engines.  Those problems lie behind incidents of fires, explosions and venting of toxic wood gas straight into the atmosphere, reported from other gasification plants.  An in depth analysis and definition of biomass gasification can be found here: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Biomass-gasification-and-pyrolysis-formatted-full-report.pdf See Page 10 for a definition of biomass gasification

[4] Further planning consents would be required for scaling up the plant and for additional activities that rely on the use of waste heat.

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