The much-delayed 86,000 tonnes per year capacity biomass facility in Barry is undergoing its final phase of testing with developers hoping for the plant to be fully operational later this year.
First granted planning permission in 2010, the facility has had difficulty in getting started but construction on the plant began in 2016 and the developers are confident it will finally be operational this year.
A spokesperson for Barry Biomass told letsrecycle.com: “The plant is currently undergoing a period of testing on waste wood fuel during which time all the systems are being operated under normal conditions. We expect to be fully operational later in the year.”
Granted an environmental permit by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on 7 February 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story), the plant, based on Barry Island in Wales, underwent cold commissioning in March 2019.
It has now begun the hot commissioning phase, which involves the gradual introduction of wood to the plant to begin the main operations.
Caitriona Harvey, industry and waste regulation team leader for NRW, told letsrecycle.com: “The Barry Biomass plant has begun the next phase of testing, including commissioning of the turbine, generator set and woodchip systems.
“We will continue to regulate the site in accordance with the conditions of its environmental permit.”
It had been reported the plant was to become operational in spring 2018.
Financed by Aviva Investors, an offshoot of the insurance giant Aviva, the plant has been designed to recover energy from pre-prepared mixed waste wood gasification.
It will process shredded mixed waste wood from households and industry, include items such as pallets, fence panels and cupboards.
Barry Biomass claims it will feed 10 megawatts of electricity into the local grid per year, enough to power 23,000 households.
The Barry Biomass spokesperson said: “The waste wood used in the gasification process at Barry Biomass comes from a variety of sources, including municipal recycling centres and manufacturing companies. It will not contain any treated wood or contamination.
“The UK Government and regulatory bodies categorises waste wood chip into three non-hazardous grades, A to C, which are suitable for biomass gasification. This is what will be used at Barry Biomass.”
To keep NRW and the community of Barry informed on the progress of the plant, Barry Biomass publishes regular public letters on its website.
“We expect to be fully operational later in the year”
The latest, published on Christmas Eve, explained that, with the plant undergoing a period of testing on waste wood fuel, residents might see some steam rising from the facility.
Ms Harvey said: “The operator is keeping us informed about this work, and with progress on other requirements and measures to be put in place to reduce noise levels, before the plant can become operational.
“Our officers will be monitoring these activities by carrying out checks, visits, and technical audits on all aspects of site operation to ensure the operator meets the stringent controls in its permit.
“We informed the Welsh Government and the planning authority as soon as the operator told us about its plans.
“We are encouraging the operator to keep the local community updated on how the operations at the plant are progressing, and it has published a letter to residents on its website.
“We will update people on any issues in relation to compliance with the permit.”
On 14 March 2019 NRW allowed a change to the environmental permit, with hydrogen fluoride emissions to be checked every three months in the first year, instead of continuously.
During the past two years Barry Biomass has also added noise and odour proofing equipment, as per the terms of the original permit.