Green Investment Bank invests in Wales biomass plant

By Anna Simet | October 03, 2013

With completion of a new, long-term feedstock contract and an investment by the U.K. Green Investment Bank, Western Bioenergy Ltd. in Port Talbot, Wales, is set to undergo a refurbishment that is expected to improve operational efficiency, reduce operational risk, and allow the plant to accept more “Grade A” or clean, recycled wood as fuel.

Having been operational since 2007, the 14.7 MW biomass facility was the first commercial-scale power station of its kind in Wales, built at a cost of £33 million ($53.5 million).

Since the plant began operating, the Forestry Commission Wales has supplied the bulk of its feedstock through a 12-year supply agreement. Via a new, 15-year contract that will serve the plant for its lifetime, Stobart Biomass will supply approximately 150,000 metric tons of biomass fuel per year. The contract requires a mix of virgin wood and Grade A wood, with the recycled component expected to increase following planned upgrades to the plant. Stobart Biomass will supply approximately 50 percent of the volume itself and manage and process the remainder, which will be supplied by a third party, according to the company.

The refurbishment is expected to take place in the summer of 2014.

The U.K. Green Investment Bank is a cornerstone investor in the U.K. Green and Sustainable Waste and Energy Investment Limited Partnership, which is investing £11 million to hold a minority stake in the plant. Co-investments were sourced from Signia Wealth Management and Stobart, which has invested £800,000 to acquire a small stake in the equity and debt of the project.

The plant was previously owned by a consortium consisting of Good Energies and Western Log Group.