by Isaiah Boone
In a recently written article on ChronicleLive, Peter Mccusker explores the potential impact that biomass energy will have not only on the energy market in the United Kingdom, but on the labor market as well. Biomass energy is produced from the burning of plant and animal remains. (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/solutions/technologies/biomass.html) There are a number of schemes and plans being developed in the North Eastern part of the United Kingdom that involve the construction of new biomass energy plants and the conversion of previously non-biomass energy plants to biomass energy plants. (http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/business/business-news/biomass-power-could-bring-thousands-10726768) These plants have the potential to yield new jobs and new, cleaner energy.
Amongst the plants that are transitioning from non-biomass generation to biomass generation is the Lynemouth Power Station in Lynemouth, Northumberland, United Kingdom. The plant, which was initially built to supply stable electricity to the nearby Lynemouth Smelter, was opened in 1972 and burned coal in order to generate electricity. The Managing Director of Lynemouth Power, Vaun Campbell noted that, “The ending of coal burn is undoubtedly a significant event in the station’s 43 year history”, when referring to the planned conversion from coal to biomass generation. The plant employs approximately 135 people and was temporarily shut down in December while wood finalizing pellet-importing contracts. Since December, the plant has been acquired by a Czech-Slovak energy investment group, called Energeticky (EPH). EPH plans to move forward with the transition from coal to wood pellets and has also been able to keep in place the original deal between the UK government and Lynemouth. The deal was an early Contract for Difference (CfD), which guaranteed payments of £105 per MW/h of electricity once the plant was operating again. The amount of £105 per MW/h is more than twice the current wholesale electricity price and once the plant is complete it will be able to provide the National Grid with 390 MW of electricity.
Based on the projects required to build biomass power plants and transition others into biomass generating plants, like Lynemouth, it is estimated that at least 800 jobs will be created just to complete the construction of these plants. In addition, more jobs will be supplied once these plants need to be staffed. Consequently, the transition in energy producing power plants is expected to create thousands of jobs for the northeastern part of the United Kingdom. The problem with the movement towards biomass power is that there is a substantial amount of uncertainty regarding the construction of biomass power plants. A number of the companies involved in biomass power, such as RES and Teesside, have delayed or pulled out of existing projects, which means the previously estimated figures can not be reached unless plans are resumed. Thus, the future of biomass power in the United Kingdom is not certain and as of now journalists and researchers can only estimate the potential impact it may have on the United Kingdom.
Lynemouth Power (http://www.lynemouthpower.com/news/lynemouth-steps-towards-conversion/)