New U.K. port facility to provide pellets to Drax

By Erin Voegele | June 23, 2015

On June 22, U.K.-based Peel Ports Group announced plans for a new £100 million ($158.29 million) biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool. The facility, which will have the capacity to handle up to 3 million metric tons of wood pellets per year, will supply pellets to the Drax power station in Selby.

The terminal will be owned and operated by Ligna Biomass Ltd., a company owned by the shareholders of Peel Ports Group Ltd. U.K.-based GRAHAM will build the facility.

According to Peel Ports Group, the project is scheduled to open in October and be fully operational by July 2016. The terminal will handle pellets shipped to the U.K. from North America. Once the biomass fuel arrives at the port, it will be shipped by rail from Liverpool to Selby. When fully operational, the terminal is expected to have the ability to facilitate up to 10 train loads of pellets per day and will account for up to 40 percent of the total wood pellets consumed by Drax each year. In addition to rail loading capability, the port facility will also feature 100,000 metric tons of pellet storage capacity.

“The biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool, will enable us to further our ambitious decarbonisation plans and ensure Drax continues to lead the charge when it comes to creating sustainable, affordable renewable power,” said Andy Koss, CEO of Drax Power Ltd.

“It is important to us that we measure the carbon footprint of every step in our supply chain from harvesting to transportation. By shipping to Liverpool and transporting our biomass via rail, Peel Ports have provided us with a logistics solution which minimises carbon emissions and helps us maintain our low-carbon manifesto,” Koss continued.

News of the new port project came less than a week after Drax announced that in July it will save its 20 millionth metric ton of carbon since it started burning biomass in place of coal a decade ago. The company expects to reach the 50 millionth metric ton mark in an additional 2.5 years.

Drax has already converted two of its six generating units to biomass, and has a third conversion project in the pipeline. Once that project is complete, Drax is expected to reduce its annual carbon emissions by approximately 12 million metric tons per year.

“This latest milestone data underscores the low carbon credentials of sustainable biomass,” said Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of Drax Group plc. “In a relatively short period of time Drax has delivered major carbon savings, while continuing to provide reliable, secure and good value renewable power.

“This data also gives an indication of the scale of the contribution sustainable biomass will make to meeting the U.K.’s carbon reduction targets,” Thompson continued. “Drax is already Europe’s largest decarbonisation project, and we believe that there is potential for significant additional carbon savings through the conversion of further units.”