Renew On Line (UK) 41

Extracts from the Jan-Feb 2003 edition of Renew
These extracts only represent about 25% of it

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Review: White Paper

2. PIU on Waste

3. Green Energy- the good, the bad and the ugly

4. Tidal and Wave Power move ahead

5. EAC takes on PIU- and Wilson

6. Taking the high road: 40% of power from Scottish Renewables ?

7. After ARBRE

8. Wind backlash: Over the sea..

9. Coal use grows: UK Renewables move only slowly

10. Regional Renewable Rivalry

11. World Roundup: WSSD aftermath,

Thailand, China, USA,Australia, Canada ,Germany

12. Nuclear Economics: Wilson, and the public, on Nuclear

7. After ARBRE

The financial collapse of the UK’s flagship £35m ARBRE energy crop combustion project in Yorkshire has left local farmers seeking new markets for the wood from short rotation willow coppices that they were managing. However, the accountants overseeing the liquidation of the projects assets have evidently had some expressions of interest in buying the plant. Meanwhile, as reported in Earthed, the excellent new e-journal, according to the chair of local Renewable Energy Growers association Russell Toothill, farmers were left with worthless contracts to supply willow and they have no alternative buyer for their willow- "and the other option is to grub out the crop". He told Earthed "We are talking to other power generation companies that are looking at building plants but they are four or five years down the road". Even groups looking at simple heating plants using willow fuel are two to three years away.

What went wrong? ARBRE was a complex integrated gasification and combined cycle gas turbine plant, the first of its kind, and there had been minor problems as each part was tested in sequence. So it was taking a long time to fully commission. Put simply, the delay was too much for the backers. Energy Power Resources had bought the plant in May as part of the First Renewables portfolio, from Kelda, but under a transitional deal, Kelda was responsible for getting the plant fully commissioned. However, with the commissioning date continually being postponed, Kelda eventually decided to pull out.

Arbre still has a NFFO contract, which should make it a reasonable attractive purchase, but the basic issue remains- was it sensible to try to develop a very advanced combustion plant at the same time as trying to develop an equally novel SRC fuel supply chain. Conventional steam raising combustion plants are widely used around the world, fed from forestry and farm wastes. But the DTI had been keen to pioneer new technology- presumably to put the UK ahead in the export market for this equipment. That was always a risky exercise, and sadly it doesn’t seem to have paid off, throwing the UK energy crop programme into disarray. Mind you, as FoE commented on a Radio 4 discussion on the debacle on Oct 2nd, it was strange that the DTI could find £650m to bail out nuclear, but nothing to keep ARBRE going.

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