UK power plant project may include eco park

By Lisa Gibson | October 25, 2011

A 300-megawatt biomass power plant proposed for Holyhead, Wales, could represent the center of a strategy to build a number of eco parks in the U.K., according to the project’s preferred bidder, Lateral Power Ltd.

Lateral Power is working to implement a plan that would develop biomass power plants in Ireland and throughout the U.K., co-located with eco parks complete with hydroponic greenhouses and aquaculture fish facilities. Economies of scale are maximized because these operations can be run by using the surplus of energy byproducts from the company's combined-heat-and-power stations’ output, according to Lateral Power. While the thermal degradation of the biomass will generate steam to drive turbines that produce electricity, the byproducts of the process will provide warm water to feed a specialty fish farm. Subsequently, the soiled water from the fish farm, combined with carbon dioxide from the power plant, will feed hydroponic greenhouses.

Power plant developer Anglesey Aluminum Metals Ltd. submitted an application for approval of the plant in 2009, proposing to develop it near its own aluminum smelter and possibly power it. The power plant will consume 2.4 million tons of woody biomass, including chips, pellets and agriculture residues, per year. With the announcement of Lateral Power as the preferred bidder, also came the unveiling of plans for the eco park.

“We are absolutely delighted to have been given preferred bidder status,” said Lateral Power CEO Sean McCormick. “Our vision is to provide not only sustainable electricity for the U.K. power grid but also healthy, freshly grown food products for local and regional cities, reducing the need for imported food with a large carbon footprint.”

Lateral Power has partners in Canada, the U.S. and Brazil. Angelsey is jointly owned by Riotinto Aluminum, Brisbane Queensland 4000, Australia, and Kaiser Aluminum, Foothill Ranch, Calif.

“We believe that this will be one of the largest biomass power stations and the largest combined aquaculture facility in the world,” McCormick said. “The Anglesey Aluminum site is perfectly located for the purpose, having one of the best deep-water harbors in the U.K., excellent rail links onto the site and connections straight to the U.K. power grid.”