Ely Power Station at 38MW, is the largest straw burning power station in the world generating over 270GWh each year. The 200,000 tonnes p.a. fuel demand of the plant is supplied by Ely’s sister company, Anglian Straw.
The plant is highly efficient, generating steam at 540°C and 92 bar. Noted for its high reliability Ely achieves one of the highest load factors of any renewable energy plant. Ely is also capable of burning a range of other biofuels and up to 10% natural gas. The station was commissioned in December 2000 and employs 28 people.
Ely Power Station is run by Energy Power Resources (EPR) who in turn were purchased in 2005 by Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund (MEIF) Renewable Energy Limited. EPR own and operate five large biomass fuelled generators within the UK, including one at Eye that is claimed to be the world’s first to be fuelled by poultry litter.
The activities of the Company are supported by Government policy. The Government has introduced an incentive mechanism, the Renewables Obligation (RO), which results in a premium being paid for renewable electricity generation. Each renewable generator issues ROC’s, which are sold to electricity supply companies in order that they can meet their obligation for the proportion of supplied electricity generated from renewable sources. The obligation increases annually in line with the Government’s target for the UK to generate 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010 increasing to 15% by 2015. There is a further target of 20% to be achieved by 2020. Currently renewables represent around 3% of electricity generation so the targets will be very challenging to meet. All of EPR’s electrical generation is eligible for ROC’s either directly or via NFFO contracts.
A leading example of how the use of plant matter and waste can be used sensibly to produce much needed energy.