Octagon Energy inaugurates Hickleton power project

Jan. 16, 2001–Octagon Energy has started electricity generation based on coal mine methane at its Hickleton site near Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

The 5MW plant is the first in a series of power generation developments being undertaken by Octagon, an independent electricity generation company specialising in environmentally-friendly coal mine methane technology. Octagon aims to have 50MW of generating capacity in operation by the end of 2002 with all of the plants fuelled by coal gases.

The development of the Hickleton power plant, at a cost in excess of à‚£2.5 million, will not only help this former mining area commercially but it will also bring environmental benefits. The plant will burn gas that would otherwise have been vented to the atmosphere.

Methane escaping from abandoned coal workings is some 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. However, given its clean burning qualities, the potential for small-scale power generation is being increasingly recognised.

Electricity from Hickleton is being sold to Enron and distributed to industrial and commercial users. Enron, one of the world’s leading energy and communications companies, is investing à‚£11.5 million in Octagon’s development programme and has agreed to purchase power generated from its projects over the next 15 years.

In September 2000 Octagon Energy announced that it had awarded a contract worth in excess of à‚£7.5 million to DEUTZ ENERGY, a division of DEUTZ UK LTD, to supply, operate and maintain power stations up to a total of 30 MW for Octagon Energy. Hickleton is the first plant to come on stream under this arrangement. It is powered by four DEUTZ TBG 620V16K type gas engines rated at 1,358 kWe.

Octagon Energy, which specialises in the full value chain from gas extraction to power generation, has been awarded 11 petroleum licences for the exploitation of coalbed and coal mine methane. These licences extend over 21 blocks covering 2,072 square kilometres. Four of these licences comprising seven blocks were awarded in the recent 9th landward petroleum licensing round. Announcing applications for the 9th round, Energy Minister Helen Liddell said there would be substantial environmental benefits if gas from abandoned coal mines could be fully exploited in the UK.

John Garratt, Octagon Energy’s Chief Executive, commented: “Bringing Hickleton on stream is a milestone in our company’s development. It is the start of an intense period of activity which will bring commercial and environmental benefits to a number of areas in England and Wales which have suffered as a result of the decline in mining activity. I am confident that these small-scale, environmentally-friendly generation units, like Hickleton, will provide a useful contribution to the country’s electricity needs.”

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