Fire damages Tilbury biomass power plant

By Anna Austin | February 28, 2012

Less than two months after being commissioned, the world’s largest wood pellet-fired power plant has endured a catastrophic fire.  

RWE npower said the fire broke out at its Tilbury, England, power station the morning of Feb. 26, and was brought under control by the afternoon. Local news reports said that more than 100 firefighters were needed to fight the blaze. Nobody was injured.

In a statement issued Feb. 27, RWE said emergency services remained on site over night and will continue to monitor the situation and provide assistance.

Units 9 and 10, where the fire occurred, are being emptied of pellet fuel. Unit 8 is currently generating energy in order to safely empty its hopper of any remaining biomass, according to RWE.

The cause of the fire remains unclear, but RWE has begun a full internal investigation to determine the cause, and said it will be reviewing the extent of the damage to the station over the coming days. Staff at the power station returned to the site Feb. 28, and will be working closely with emergency services, according to RWE.

The power plant produces nearly 750 MW using wood pellets produced at RWE’s Waycross, Ga., facility, and had previously been using coal. At 100 percent capacity, the plant will use roughly 2.3 million metric tons (2.5 million tons) of wood pellets annually.