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World's biggest straw power station at Brigg

Special bales compressing straw into a defined size will fuel the power plant at Brigg.

28.03.08
World's biggest straw power station at Brigg

By Jason Hippisley
Market Rasen Mail

THE BIGGEST straw-burning power station in the world is being planned for a former sugar beet factory in North Lincolnshire.

 

If leading green power firm Eco2 is successful with its bid 30 jobs will be generated in the Brigg area and at least 50 further haulage jobs created to transport tonnes of straw bales from local farms to the plant at Scawby Brook.

 

The plans - revealed exclusively here - will be outlined at public meetings in Brigg's Angel Suite on April 25 and 26.

 

The plant would cost around £80m to build - with up to a quarter of that spend being made locally - and will need supplying with £6m of straw each year. From that 40megawatts of energy will be created - enough to power 65,000 homes.

 

To date the largest straw-only power plant in the world, at Ely, Cambridgeshire, churns out £38mw and Eco2 has another 40MW operation planned at Sleaford.

 

Head of environment for Eco2's consultants Mistral, Alison Hill, said all of the straw would be locally sourced, boosting farmers' fortunes and the project's green credentials. There will be 100 lorries movements on a defined route to the power station - one every seven and half minutes - between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday, half day on Saturday and not at all on Sunday.

 

"The straw has to come from the immediate area otherwise we will have a carbon footprint that negates the whole point of using biomass," she said.

 

At its height as a sugar factory there were 400 sugar beet lorries a day using the same route, at times queuing down the road.

 

The building would have a reduced mass than the beet factory it replaces and would be over-shadowed by the gas-fired power station next door.

 

"It's the ideal location next to the power station as then we can plug directly into the National Grid.

 

"We are aware of the importance the sugar beet factory had for the local community and once again Brigg will be at the forefront of a new industrial revolution for the area based around straw," said Ms Hill.

 

The beet factory operated from 1928 to 1991.

 

This project's output of 40MW pales into insignificance compared to the Centrica gas plant's 240MW of power, but is, says Ms Hill, an essential component in meeting future requirements and ensuring energy security.

 

"Lots of little carbon clean plants like Brigg are seen as better than dirty big coal and gas operations. This operation will save 1/4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, using up a straw surplus that exists in north Lincolnshire and leaving an ash by-product which makes an ideal fertiliser.