11 August 2014 by Michael Holder

Bedfordshire waste wood biomass project restarted

The long-delayed Twinwoods combined heat and power (CHP) waste wood-burning biomass plant is set to begin commissioning next year after a deal was agreed for a new biomass combustion technology provider.

Southampton-based Saxlund International has agreed a contract with Twinwoods Heat & Power Ltd to provide a state-of-the-art clean burn solution for the 3.4MW project in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, which is now expected to go live in 2015.

The Falbygden biomass plant in Sweden (above) uses similar Saxlund International technology as that proposed for the Twinwoods facility in the UK

The Falbygden biomass plant in Sweden (above) uses similar Saxlund International technology as that proposed for the Twinwoods facility in the UK

Situated in a disused 1960s Ministry of Defence research and development building in the north of Bedfordshire, the facility will burn 40,000 tonnes of waste wood each year from commercial and domestic recycling centres.

Established in 2009, Twinwoods Heat & Power Ltd was previously a joint venture between renewable energy specialist Bioflame and wood recycling firm Growing Beds. The plant was previously expected to open in 2011 following delays in securing funding for the project due to the economic downturn (see letsrecycle.com story).

However, Bioflame went into liquidation in 2012, while Ravensden-based Growing Beds no longer holds ownership of the venture and is now only acting as the sole fuel supplier for the Thurleigh plant, which will produce 27,000MWhr of electricity and 8,000MWhr of heat per annum.

After securing backing from London-based investment fund manager STAR Capital Partners, the Twinwoods Heat & Power Ltd biomass project was restarted in May this year when the deal with Saxlund International was signed.

Uniti Bhalla, partner at STAR Capital Partners, said that the decision to fund the Twinwoods project was borne out of an initiative to invest in small scale renewable assets in the UK with the aim of building a portfolio of scale.

She added: “Twinwoods represents exactly the type of investment that we are targeting core infrastructure with some associated complexity, thereby delivering a good risk adjusted return. We continue to see attractive opportunities in this niche.”

“We see real opportunities for small-scale locally-based CHP biomass solutions such as Twinwoods in the 2 to 5MWe range. Solutions like these capitalise on waste wood which would otherwise be exported and are driven in part by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which offers considerable benefits to operators and investors.”  – Matt Drew, managing director, Saxlund International

Saxlund International

A subsidiary of international energy firm Opcon, Saxlund had been involved with the project since the beginning as the material handling system provider, but the company is now also providing the biomass combustion system for the plant, which was originally set to be developed by the now-defunct Bioflame.

According to Matt Drew, managing director of Saxlund International, the Thurleigh biomass plant was half built when Bioflame went into liquidation and Saxlund will now be replacing the previous boiler at the plant, as Bioflame had not been delivering the required outputs.
He also said that commercial negotiations are taking place with potential recipients of the heat and energy provided by the plant.

Mr Drew said: “Twinwoods Heat & Power is a perfect example of a local, small-scale, BioEnergy power station using waste wood fuel to deliver energy and hot water for local commercial and domestic users.

“We see real opportunities for small-scale locally-based CHP biomass solutions such as Twinwoods in the 2 to 5MWe range. Solutions like these capitalise on waste wood which would otherwise be exported and are driven in part by the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which offers considerable benefits to operators and investors.”

Biomass system

Saxlund will manage all aspects of design, manufacture, installation and commissioning of the plant, adding that its biomass technology was guaranteed to deliver at least 8,000 hours operation between shutdown inspections.

According to Saxlund, key components include the fuel handling system with push floor and conveyors, the combustion grate, integrated high-pressure steam boiler and steam pipework to feed a Siemens turbine system.

Similar Saxlund International installations operate in a number of locations in Europe, including at the Falbygens Energis plant in Sweden, and the company claims to have a 100% success rate in delivering biomass plants that work.

Meanwhile, in the UK Saxlund has been involved with providing systems for biomass projects in Markinch, operated by energy firm RWE, and also at E.ONs Blackburn Meadow project.

Marcus Buckle, chief executive of Twinwoods Heat & Power, said that the decision to involve Saxlund was taken after “thorough and exhaustive research into their track record in this field, both in the UK and in Europe”, which allowed THPL to have confidence that the solutions they put forward were the right ones.

Mr Buckle said: “I am confident that the new power station will become an important contributor to the local community in terms of new jobs created, energy produced and the volume of waste wood the plant will divert from landfill each year.”


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