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Scunthorpe Telegraph: 'Significant jobs' as Hull firm wins biomass contract



A HULL company is among the first to benefit from supply chain opportunities linked to a £100m investment in the Humber Ports.


This week, Associated British Ports announced it had signed a 15-year contract with Drax Power Ltd to handle biomass shipments destined for the Drax Power Station at Selby.


As part of the project, ABP will invest the lion's share – about £70m – in the Ports of Immingham and Grimsby, with the remaining £30m divided between the ports of Hull and Goole.


The programme is expected to generate about 100 jobs during construction, with an additional 100 jobs created once the facilities become fully operational, as reported in The Mail.


Today, the Mail can reveal Spencer Engineering – part of Hull firm Spencer Group – has been awarded a multi-million contract to design and build a biomass rail loading facility and associated infrastructure in Hull.


Paul Gledhill, Spencer Group's managing director for power and process, said work had already commenced on the construction of the biomass bulk handling facility, which is due for handover in early October.


He said: "We are extremely pleased that the Spencer Group is involved in the construction of this facility.


"As the only UK contractor to have successfully constructed and commissioned bulk biomass-handling facilities at both ports and power stations, we are confident this facility will be delivered in line with the programme, performance and cost expectations.


"We also have a track record of working in operational sites without impacting on our clients' commercial operations, which is clearly an important factor."


Matt Jukes, ABP port director for Hull and Goole, said: "This investment in the ports is great news for Hull and is another string in the Humber's renewables bow, and quite a big one.


"The jobs it will create, both in the construction phase and once operational, are significant.


"There is so much focus on wind at the moment and rightly so, but this is a reminder of the fact renewables in the Humber is about so much more than one thing.


"Biomass is a cargo that needs a certain type of handling, therefore the sheds that will be created to store it and the associated equipment are very sophisticated.


"It is something we have been working on for some time now and it is great news that we are using a local company to do this."


The contract win follows Spencer Group's completion of a renewable fuel terminal project at the Port of Tyne.


The facility was designed to service Drax Power Station by rail with biomass product, providing 130,000m³ of storage and capability for mechanical rail loading – while the trains are moving – for onward dispatch. Completion of the scheme, which involved bespoke mechanical feed loading hoppers, fuel monitoring systems, mechanical handling conveying and a rail load out facility, made Spencer the first UK company to have completed a biomass project of its kind at both ports and power stations, making it an industry leader.


Similarly, the works at the port of Hull will involve a road vehicle reception facility, conveyor system, a 3,000m³ slipformed reinforced concrete silo and a state-of-the-art loading facility capable of loading trains with 1,600 tonnes of material in just 40 minutes.


Mr Gledhill said: "There has been a great deal of collaborative working between ourselves, Drax and ABP to tie up the build specification and operating specification to make sure they are mutually compatible.


"In addition, we have had extensive and constructive discussions about the engineering of this project to ensure the long-term viability of the facility for all parties and to enable it to become operational rapidly."


Producing approximately seven per cent of the UK's electricityneeds, Drax Power Station at Selby is the largest single producer of electricity in the country.


It is now planning to convert three of its existing coal-fired generating units to burn sustainable biomass, which will result in its output being predominantly from renewable resources within the next few years.


Dorothy Thompson, Drax's chief executive, said: "Investment in the biomass supply chain is critical to developing this nascent industry and realising its huge potential.


"Importantly, this investment helps to deliver both the low carbon and growth agendas set for the UK, while providing secure and reliable supplies of cost-effective renewable power."