A coal-fired power station converted to biomass fuel is set to start up although it cannot meet new EU emissions requirements. The Environment Agency says it is minded to agree a derogation from the new rules for the Lynemouth plant, because the cost of adding extra technology to cut emissions is disproportionate for the “insignificant” emissions involved.
Lynemouth has asked for a derogation unti 2027, which is the end of its Contract for Difference and the expected timetable for a further change in emissions regulations.
When it was commissioned in 1972 Lynemouth was designed to burn Northumberland coal and provide power to a nearby aluminium smelter. With the closure of the smelter coal burning ceased in December 2015 and conversion began to 100% biomass, producing 140MW from each of the plant’s three burners. Now owned by EPH (based in the Czech Republic) the plant was granted an ‘investment contract’ CfD by government with an indexed strike price now set at £119.29/MWh.
The plant has to meet emissions limits set under the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, and specifically rules that require plant to use ‘Best Available Techniques’ (BAT). The BAT definitions are updated every eight years and the latest come into force in 2021. However, the configuration of the Lynemouth plant raises the cost of installing the BAT optionto reduce NOx emissions – known as selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) – and reduces its effectiveness.
The Environment Agency said the decision had not yet been taken, but it expects to agree with EPH that the extra emissions are ‘insignificant’: the extra emissions would total 433 tonnes of NOx but also result in the emisison of 32 tonnes of ammonia. It proposes to allow the derogation.
The plant is expected to start up this summer. The Environment Agency also wants the company to provide a report on opportunities for combined heat and power supply within six months of starting operations.