7 November 1997

E Anglia on stream inside three years

ELECTRICITY will be generated from East Anglian straw within three years, provided contracts are signed as expected this winter.

The project is almost a year behind schedule. But thanks to a change of developer, it is now up and running again, says Nigel Viney, project manager for Anglian Straw, a company formed by Northern Straw, of Goole, Yorks and Beds-based merchant Sidney C Banks, to supply fuel for the power station.

"Contracts are close to being signed. Everything else is in place to allow it to proceed."

Full planning permission for the £63m project at Ely, Cambs, was granted more than a year ago, says David Williams, chief executive of Hull-based Energy Power Resources, the company building and running the power station.

The delay was caused by the take-over last year of original developer Norweb by United Utilities, which decided to abandon power generation.

"We picked up the project in May. We had to revalidate pricing and revisit contracts, so we are still coming up to speed," says Mr Williams. A contractor to build the power station is due to be appointed shortly, once the purchase of the 8ha (21-acre) site has been completed. "We expect to sign contracts early in the New Year."

About 200,000t of straw sourced from over 70 farms will be needed each year to supply the power station. Output will be 34MW, enough for 70,000 homes.

Fuel supplies are already guaranteed, says Mr Viney. He expects to sign contracts with the developer soon. "We have 70 farmers signed up within a 60 mile radius of the plant." Contracts will last 14 years and are indexed linked.

Price will vary, says David Johnson, Northern Straws managing director. Material with a moisture content lower than 16% will attract a premium, wetter material will be discounted. Haulage and time of movement will also be taken into account. "Growers will receive an on-farm average price of about £20/t at todays rate."

Straw will be baled by contractors, farmers and Anglian Straws own machines and stored on farm until required. &#42

Giving straw a lift – Northern Straws David Johnson (left) and Banks Nigel Viney.

About 200,000t of straw from 70 East Anglian farms will be burnt annually at the Ely plant. Farmers will receive an average of £20/t.

STRAW POWER

&#8226 New developer – project back on track.

&#8226 Construction starting soon.

&#8226 Generating by 2000?

&#8226 34MW output enough for 70,000 homes.

&#8226 Fuel – 200,000t straw contracted from 70+ farms.

&#8226 On farm average price – £20/t.