power station Fibrowat Thetford, UK
Thetford poultry-litter power station is one of the largest plants producing
power from biomass in Europe and one of the three of similar characteristics
existing in the U.K. (all of which were built by the same developer). The other
plants are at eye in Suffolk (12.7 MW, opened in July 1992) and Glanford North
Lincolnshire (13.5 MW, opened in November 1993).
It is also the largest NFFO (Non Fossil Fuel Obligation) scheme existing in
the U.K. at present. The project was awarded a NFFO3 contract in 1994, and
construction began in August 1996. The plant was commissioned in October 1998.
Financial resources / Economic Benefits
The plant has an output of 38.5 MW of electricity (estimated,
according to the plant's managers, to be sufficient to supply a town of around
93,000 homes ten times the size of Thetford) and consumes approximately
400,000 tonnes per year of poultry litter complemented with other organic
fuels. By way of comparison, it is worth noting that the calorific power of
poultry litter when used as a fuel is about a half that of coal.
The main components of the installation are a 110 m high
chimney and a 4,000 m2 fuel hall.
The plant is equipped with a Foster Wheeler boiler with a
capacity of 55 tonnes per hour and an Ansaldo turbine generator and grate
The process is a traditional one, organised in several steps.
First, poultry litter is collected in covered lorries from nearby farms and
brought to the plant. The fuel is delivered to a 4000 m2 hall (fuel hall)
specially designed for this purpose. The fuel hall has a capacity of 10,000
tonnes (equivalent to 7 days supply) so no weekend deliveries are necessary.
Fifty five tonnes an hour of litter are fed to the boiler house
by means of spiral screw augers, where the fuel is blown into the combustion
chamber and incinerated at 850 oC. The water in the boiler is heated to 450 oC
and the steam produced turns a turbine connected to an electrical generator.
The electricity produce is fed in to the local grid, steam is condensed to
water by air-cooled condensers and subsequently recirculated into the boiler
and residual ashes produced are used as fertiliser.
The power station is open to visits by local residents and
Financial resources / Economic Benefits
The total investment came to 110,000,000 and the breakdown
according to type of investment was as follows:
|Type of investment
||% of total
|Ordinary share equity
The senior debt was arranged by Bank of Scotland and co
underwritten with the Westdeutsche Landersbank Girozentrale. Subsequently, six
other banks (based in countries where Fibrowatt plans to develop further
projects) joined the syndication of the debt, which is due to be repaid over 12
years on a straight-line amortisation basis at commercial interest rates (with
an interest rate of 150 points over LIBOR).
Moreover, Marubeni Corporation of Japan provided a mixture of
junior and subordinated debt and Catamount Energy invested in a mixture of
subordinated debt and equity.
Therefore, final balance of the equity is held as follows:
Fibrowatt Ltd (51 %), Catamount Thetford Corporation (44 %) and Foster Wheeler
Energy Ltd (5 %).
Additionally, the project was partially subsidised by the UK
government as it was granted a NFFO3 (Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation) contract.
Apart from the energy production (38.5 MW) the positive effects
in terms of the environment and employment include the fact that the
installation consumes more then 400,000 tonnes of poultry litter a year. This
can be considered a positive result in terms of waste disposal, considering
that over 1.5 m tonnes of this type of waste is produced annually in the U.K.
When compared with other potential alternative treatments for
poultry litter, this option seems to prevent certain negative effects on the
environment such as possible ground water pollution when it is used as manure
and methane emissions from waste storage. The same occurs when compared with
the by-products of other types of combustion. For example, combustion in
fossile-fuel power stations generates sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxides, as
well as producing CO2.
The by-products and wastes from the plant are mainly gases and
ash. The exhaust gas is treated in order to fulfil the legal requirements at UK
and European level and the ash is sold as an 'environmental friendly
fertiliser' (Fibrophos), as it is rich in phosphates and potash and is
nitrate-free. Visual and odour impact were taken into consideration when the
plant was designed, considering location (and depth) and implementing a
specific ventilation system.
The plan has also had a positive impact in terms of job
creation: about 300 people were employed during the building phase and around
30 permanent staff operate the plant.
33 Notting Hill Gate
London W11 3JQ
+44 20 7229 9252
Fax: +44 20 7221 8671