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Reuters: E.ON to start second UK biomass conversion unit on Saturday


German utility E.ON (EONGn.DE) will on Saturday start operating a second biomass conversion unit at its Ironbridge power plant in Britain, a production schedule showed.

Unit 1 at the old coal-fired power plant will start generating biomass-fuelled electricity at 300 megawatts (MW) on Saturday, the E.ON schedule showed.

Unit 2, which was also converted from burning coal to burning wood pellets, has been operating at the same capacity since February 21, a spokesman said.

Ironbridge's operating hours were restricted in 2008 under a European Union-wide law that imposes a pollution threshold on power plants and despite the conversion, Ironbridge will have to abide by the limitations.

At the end of January, Ironbridge had just over 11,000 hours of operating time remaining until the end of 2015.

E.ON does not plan to re-license the station as a biomass plant to allow it to run beyond 2015 due to the high investment costs required, the spokesman said.

Rival RWE npower (RWEG.DE) , which converted its Tilbury coal-fired plant to biomass last year, has applied for a new licence to operate the station longer.

Tilbury's operating hours are expected to expire in October and unless it is granted a new permit, it will have to shut down then.

Last week, Scottish Power shut down its 1,200-MW Cockenzie coal-fired station and RWE npower will close its 2,000-MW Didcot A plant near Oxford later this week.