Biomass and wood pellet technology looks set to continue its rise in popularity in the UK, despite a recent fire at a plant in Essex. The plant, which houses 4,000 tonnes of wood pellets, experienced a fire and firefighters worked hard to tackle the blaze. This setback sparked speculation about the reliability of wood pellet supplies and its safety.
However, Nigel Staves, the power station manager, played down the impact of the fire on local biomass users, stating: "As soon as we shut the power station down this morning, another power station was started to replace that energy. That will continue until we get Tilbury (the power station) back on-line."
Mr Staves also reaffirmed the safety of storing wood pellets, commenting: "The bunkers are very strong, made of strong steelwork, designed to hold 1,000 tonnes of coal."
Although the fire has disrupted the production of energy from this biomass plant, there is likely to be little impact in the confidence of wood pellets as they are increasingly used as a form of sustainable energy. Biomass is highly popular throughout Europe due to its reliability and efficiency and, if there was any problem with supply in the UK, there are sources within Europe to import this fuel from.
With the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive last year there is a long term plan for wood pellets and the guaranteed payments over a 20 year period provide an enticing opportunity for those looking to switch into biomass as their primary source of energy.