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  • August 16th, 2013

UK loses renewable power supply as Tilbury shuts

German utility RWE’s 750MW Tilbury biomass power plant in the UK has run down its remaining generating hours under the EU’s large combustion plant directive after firing up units 9 and 10 for a final 24 hours until midday today.

The plant produced 1.27TWh of renewable electricity in the first quarter of this year, more than 10pc of the UK’s total 12.4TWh renewable power supply for the period. Tilbury’s renewable power output will be lost because the plant will not continue to run as a biomass plant.

The utility took unit 8 off line on 18 July with around 80hours remaining. This unit remains unavailable and the utility confirmed that today would be the last day of power generation at the plant. Units 9 and 10 were desynchronised from the grid on 24 July with 24 hours remaining each, but RWE said at the time that the remaining hours could still be used before the official close date of 31 October.

“Tilbury B units 9 and 10 are expected to run Monday 12 August to Tuesday 13 August after which time they would have utilised their remaining LCPD hours,” RWE said. “Following the successful utilisation of these hours units 9 and 10 will be declared unavailable, prior to the station closure date of 31 October 2013.”

RWE also gave further clarification on its decision not to pursue the retrofitting of Tilbury to a newly-registered dedicated biomass plant, saying the project was no longer viable without eligibility under the UK’s contracts for difference scheme.

“The Department of Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that the project is ineligible for the new contract for difference support mechanism for low-carbon technologies,” RWE said. “In light of this, RWE has taken the difficult decision not to proceed with the project as it is no longer economically viable under the existing renewable obligation mechanism.”

RWE confirmed that it is still looking at possible plans for the site in the future. “Tilbury remains an excellent site for power generation and RWE will now review future plans for the site,” the utility said. “The lessons learned from the successful biomass conversion will be shared across the RWE generation portfolio, as RWE remains committed to exploring new energy technologies that can provide energy solutions that are both affordable and sustainable.”

The utility is considering converting its 330MW Lynemouth plant in the UK which it purchased from UK-Australian resources group Rio Tinto last year. The utility previously said it would not make a final decision on the Lynemouth plant until the future of Tilbury was determined, but it has yet to make a decision.

“This announcement does not change Lynemouth which is still progressing,” it said. “The decision on the biomass conversion is not expected until later this year.”

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