A £150million biomass handling facility at Humber Ports is part of a 15-year contract between port operator Associated British Ports (ABP) and Drax Power Limited to enable sustainable biomass to be transported to Drax Power Station, at Selby. This is part of an ambitious programme which will see Drax transform into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator within a few years.
The centrepiece of the development is a silo tower in a prominent position close to the main road from Hull’s docks. At 50 metres (164 ft) high it is one of the tallest structures on the city’s skyline.
The facility will handle a million tonnes a year of biomass imported by sea from the United States and Canada in the form of wood pellets created from sustainable forestry residues and thinnings. The biomass is stored in warehouses before being delivered by truck to the new facility and unloaded into feeders which take it to a 250-metre (820 ft) conveyor, carrying it to the top of the silo.
The silo is capable of storing up to 1,800 tonnes of wood pellets and is filled by 60 truckloads of biomass over a three-hour period, twice a day, loading at the rate of 600 tonnes an hour.
The port investments are generating about 100 jobs during construction, with an additional 100 jobs created once all the facilities become fully operational. The largest is an investment of around £125million in a dedicated import facility, the Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal (IRFT), which is due to be completed later this year. IRFT will handle bulk carriers bringing up to three million tonnes of wood pellets a year into the port, destined for Drax Power Station.
The new facilities underline the Humber’s reputation as the UK’s Energy Estuary, with a quarter of the country’s energy needs generated in the region, or supplied through it.