"We've achieved a lot so far and have a solid base upon which to build..." MD Fiona Macleod.
Significant Opportunities and Advances at Lynemouth Power Station
Formerly a site of heavy coal-fired industry in an area steeped in generations of mining history, the transformation at Northumberland’s Lynemouth Power Station over the last decade plus is nothing short of remarkable.
Now a leading player in the UK’s drive towards clean renewable energy use, the plant, which generates 420MW of electricity from biomass wood pellets to power 450,000 homes, has seen significant milestones met and new advances being made, especially over the last 12 to 24 months.
The pandemic, during lockdown, saw the site’s 146 key worker staff, international contract partners and regional suppliers work tirelessly and safely together under challenging conditions to maintain constant power supplies. Such restrictions had never been seen before.
The launch of the ‘Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy’ followed in November 2021 at COP26, and saw Lynemouth Power Limited (LPL) placed at the very heart of a global industry’s commitment to sustainable growth, supporting key principles including the management of natural resources, transparent carbon accounting and protecting biodiversity.
It marked the start of a major collaboration between the power sector’s ‘big hitters’ on a worldwide scale and one that LPL has fully embraced as part of its own best practices and sustainability criteria.
2021 also saw the power station embark on new, innovative R&D trials of non-wood pellet biomass with encouraging results to build upon later in 2022 with more test periods planned.
LPL also delivered its first feasibility study into the possibility of integrating bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), developed in full dialogue with the UK Government who are keen to explore all avenues within the sector as part of wider climate change ambitions. This has opened up a new development pathway for possible new investment at Lynemouth.
Fiona MacLeod, Managing Director of Lynemouth Power Station, explained, “There is a lot going on at Lynemouth with many projects having the ability to create new long-term opportunities for the site, our employees, the North East region and the UK as a whole. We are constantly looking ahead to the future and this means considering all options available to us as part of a much bigger conversation around renewable energy and the role biomass plays in low carbon electricity generation.
“The launch of the ‘Glasgow Declaration on Sustainable Bioenergy’ at COP26 was the ideal platform to get our message across, not just as a company but as an industry too. It brought together players from across the whole biomass supply chain and demonstrated our combined commitment to sustainable bioenergy and what can be achieved as part of net zero policy.
“But we need to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible too. Around 7% of the UK’s electricity is currently supplied from bioenergy sources, and with Lynemouth’s Contract for Difference (CfD) running until 2027, it is essential that we review every option available to us.
“BECCS is one example of that, with Lynemouth having a huge window of opportunity to help offset CO2 emissions from hard to decarbonise sectors. This is a major step-change for biomass generation.
“The market has evolved significantly too to a point where since April, higher fossil fuel and carbon prices have exceeded our strike price meaning we will actually be paying back to the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) over the forthcoming months.
“This is a huge milestone for us and one that means we’re not only generating renewable energy and creating lower emissions, but also providing value for money to consumers at a time when it is needed the most.”
In 2020-21, Lynemouth Power Station reported that its own emission levels were approximately 43% below the grid average. This year, the site also commenced its first major outage cycle following the plant’s full conversion to biomass, providing an opportunity for inspections and surveys to assist with post-2027 optioneering. Development of the project, in parallel with constructive dialogue with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), is providing a number of opportunities to build upon.
Fiona added, “The Government’s Biomass Strategy is due for publication later in the year and this should enable the industry to keep delivering positive results and make a significant contribution to global climate change efforts. Lynemouth is making huge strides forward, reacting to market demands and external forces, as well as integrating innovative new technologies, and our work will help to deliver a long-term vision for the site, enabling the plant to stay at the forefront of the UK’s renewable energy transition.”
(The above article featured in Bioenergy Insight Magazine May 2022 issue.)