Wood Pelleting

Sustainability

In 2002 Atkinson Design Associates initiated a regional feasibility study to evaluate the forward benefits of a UK wood pellet industry based in the National Forest. The region has seen a dramatic reduction in coal extraction and coal industry employment over a 25 year period and part of the environmental clean up has seen significant land recovery and landscaping to North West Leicestershire with significant investments into the National Forest. By 2030 the forest will yield 200,000 + tonnes of timber thinnings per annum. In response to this forward opportunity we built a small team expert in sustainable technologies including the architect Julian Marsh and Buro Happold the environmental engineers. Our project was to develop a pilot plant architecture to process 50,000 tonnes of forest thinnings per annum, as a simple but beautiful “micro energy” processing plant. Our feasibility study demonstrates that the 50,000 tonne facility will produce 240Gwh of renewable electricity per annum, with a total “UK exemplar” building and technology package costed at £3.8 million. The comparative cost to generate 4.6Gwh using solar technologies is £33 million. This is, in our view, a beautiful demonstration of the power of biomass as a source of renewable electricity. Although well understood in Sweden and other Northern European economies, our proposals in 2002 – 2003 seemed quite radical for the UK, nine years later the future of “biomass energy” is becoming recognised as vital to UK energy security.

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