Investigation under way after Tilbury biomass plant fire

The fire that ripped through a storage area of the 750 MW Tilbury power station – the world’s largest biomass plant – is now out and a full investigation is underway.

The fire broke out at 07:45 hrs and by the afternoon more than 120 firefighters were tackling the blaze, which had engulfed tonnes of wood pellets in a storage container.

Tilbury’s owner, RWE npower, this morning said that the plant’s units 9 and 10 – where the fire started – were being emptied of fuel, while unit 8 was operational but only so as to safely empty its hopper of remaining fuel.

Each hopper is about 60ft deep and can hold around 600 tonnes of wood pellets.

The deputy chief fire officer at the scene said today that early indications suggested the fire may have started in conveyor belts above the hoppers.

All staff were safely evacuated and the plant shut down as soon as the fire started. Tilbury supplies about 1 per cent of the total power to the UK’s National Grid.

Employees this morning returned to work but it is not yet known when the plant will be fully operational again.

Tilbury was converted from a coal fired plant to run on 100 per cent biomass last year and had only been fully operational for around a month before yesterday’s fire.

The fire is not just a blow to Tilbury itself but also to the biomass industry in the UK and beyond. Tilbury was the flagship large scale plant in Europe, and several other schemes on a similar scale are in the pipeline in Britain.

Friends of the Earth said today: “Clearly power stations that store large amounts of combustible materials on-site pose considerable public safety risks. It is paramount that the highest safety standards are followed, especially when the sites are close to people's homes.”

Last year there was an explosion at RWE’s wood pellet processing plant in Georgia, US, while in 2010 an explosion at a biomass plant in Germany killed three workers.

For more biomass power news


Follow Power Engineering International on Twitter

Related Articles

RWE launches power-to-gas plant in Germany

RWE has today launched a state-of-the-art power-to-gas plant in Germany.

E.ON and FCE to build MW-scale fuel cell CHP plant in Germany

An agreement has been put in place to build Europe's first commercial MW-scale fuel cell power plant.

Latest Articles

Editor's Picks

GE unveils transformational Digital Power Plant

GE yesterday unveiled a digital initiative that it claims will revolutionise the power industry and save plant operators b...
Anne Carpenter of IEA Clean Coal Centre

Report highlights need for enlightened approach to water and power generation

The International Energy Agency’s Clean Coal Centre has produced its latest insights into what is referred to as the ‘wate...

UK gives £2bn backing to Hinkley Point nuclear project

The UK government has reaffirmed its commitment to Hinkley Point C new nuclear power station by unveiling a £2bn ($3.1bn) ...

Policy tinkering sees financial lure of UK renewables sector plummet

The UK’s attractiveness for renewables investment has plummeted in the last few months thanks to “policy-making in a vacuu...

US leapfrogs China to top renewables investment table

The US has leapfrogged China to the top slot in a highly-regarded annual analysis of the best countries in the world for r...

Editorial Guides

Lubrication Challenges for the Biogas Industry in 2015

The biogas industry is growing in importance as the world continues to look for alternative, clean energy sources. However...

Maximising Power Plant Efficiency

The need for power plants to operate at maximum efficiency and flexibility while cutting emissions is greater than ever be...

How to cut your OPEX

How to cut your OPEX In a constantly evolving electricity market, factors such as over capacity and low coal costs can pu...

Buyers Guide Companies

Rolls Royce Energy Systems

We supply gas turbines, compressors and diesel power units to customers ...

Bran & Luebbe, An SPX Brand

Bran & Luebbe, an SPX brand, has been a worldwide leader in metering, an...

Lenox Instrument Co

Lenox Instrument Co is a manufacturer of highly reliable fixed and porta...

ATG Electronics

For more than a decade, ATG Electronics has established itself as a lead...

SWAN Analytical Instruments AG

Is one of the leading manufacturers of online analytical instruments.

Buyers Guide Products

Excitation System

Our excitation systems are recognized worl...


Compact voltage regulator, integrates all ...

MHT410 Moisture, Hydrogen and Temperature Transmitter

The Vaisala Moisture, Hydrogen and Tempera...

DMT340 Series Dewpoint and Temperature Transmitters for Very Dry Conditions

The Vaisala DRYCAP® Dewpoint and Temperatu...

Control Servo Motor SMR

A Voith control servo motor is a linear el...

Power Engineering International


The Effect of Moisture Sensor Location on Reliable Transformer Oil Monitoring

Power transformers are among the most valuable and important assets in electrical power networks and moisture is one of the key factors impacting the operational performance of transformer oil.&nbs...

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

AVEVA introduces the benefits of Engineering and Design for Lean Construction by challenging the concept of ‘right first time design' and presenting a ‘Lean’ approach. A Lean approach to project ex...

Bridging the Power Gap in Africa: Testing options to manage constrained short to medium term system operations

Around the world, existing power systems face increasingly constrained operations in the short to medium term with available ageing generation capacity.  In this paper, PLEXOS® has been used t...

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New challenges and opportunities are continually appearing thanks to dramatic developments in technology...

Latest Digital Edition

Look Inside >
Current Issue

Article Archives for Power Engineering International Magazine