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Let's Recycle: Stobart Biomass announces Wales waste wood deal


Stobart Biomass has signed a 15-year feedstock contract for the 14.7MW Western Bioenergy Limited biomass facility in South Wales, which will see a ‘significant’ increase in the amount of waste wood processed at the plant.

 Around 150,000 tonnes of virgin and waste feedstock will be provided by Stobart under the contract, which will last for the lifetime of the facility and eventually see it accept around 55% grade A waste wood.

According to Stobart, the contract initially requires a mix of 80% virgin wood and 20% grade A recycled wood, moving to 57% and 43% respectively following planned upgrades to the plant, which are due to begin in summer 2014.

The biomass fuel company, a subsidiary of Stobart Group, will supply around 50% of the feedstock itself and manage and process the remainder, which will be supplied by an unnamed third party. At present, Western Bionergy gives the Forestry Commission as the largest single supplier to the plant.

Furthermore, Stobart Group’s estates division has invested £800,000 to take a ‘small’ stake in the the Port Talbot plant, which has just been acquired by Green Investment Bank (GIB)’s fund, Greensphere Capital LLP.

Andrew Tinkler, Stobart Group chief executive officer, said: “This is the first biomass supply contract with Greensphere under our Master Framework Agreement and represents another step in the development of our partnership in this growing market. We are pleased to have been able to make an investment in the project, which we expect to result in attractive returns for the Group.”


Operational since 2008, the £33 million Western Bioenergy Limited plant produces enough electricity to power 28,000 homes and was described as the first commercial-scale power station of its kind in Wales.

Greensphere announced today (September 30) the plant upgrade is being part-financed by an £11 million investment provided by the Greensphere-managed UK Green and Sustainable Waste and Energy Investment Limited Partnership (UKGSWEI) fund.

The GIB said the overall amount invested in the plant was commercially sensitive, but co-investment has also been provided by Signia Wealth Management as well as Stobart.

Shaun Kingsbury, chief executive, UK Green Investment Bank, said: “This investment will secure the long-term future of an important Welsh renewable energy plant and will improve its efficiency and sustainability.

“The Greensphere fund was set up, in part, to help support the UK’s waste wood biomass sector and its first acquisition of an operational asset is an important step.”
The plant was purchased by Greensphere from a consortium of South Wales timber company Western Log Group and renewable energy investment firm Good Energies, operating as Western Bioenergy.

Divya Seshamani, managing partner, Greensphere Capital LLP, added: “We see the Port Talbot plant as a cornerstone of the waste-wood-to-energy platform we are building in this sector.”

Greensphere was set up in 2012 with an initial fund of £30 million to invest in energy-from-waste projects, namely anaerobic digestion (AD) and waste wood biomass developments (see story). The Port Talbot biomass plant is the fund’s second investment.