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New Biomass & Prawn Plant For Anglesey

January 29, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Paul R



Work is set to start on a £1bn combined food and power plant on Anglesey, which will create more than 1,700 jobs.

The large biomass plant and eco park will be built near Holyhead after the company behind it, Orthios, bought the former Anglesey Aluminium site.

The development will see more than 500 permanent jobs and 1,200 construction jobs brought to the area before 2018.

The plant will process waste wood to create power, with heat generated used to farm prawns and grow vegetables.

It is expected to generate 299MW of electricity, which is enough to power about 300,000 homes.

Albert Owen, MP for Anglesey, said Orthios Eco Park had the potential "to be a catalyst in giving the local economy a much-needed boost".

"The company intends to liaise with businesses, training providers and schools in the area – the benefits of which will be seen in the local and regional economy as well as providing career opportunities," he said.

Anglesey council leader Ieuan William said the ‘innovative’ project will create scores of jobs




The plant is one of two planned for Wales – a similar facility will also be built in Port Talbot – after which the technology will be rolled out to China and developing countries.

The idea is for a biomass power plant generating electricity with spare heat being used to warm indoor ponds for king prawn farming. The UK currently imports king prawns.

Waste from the prawns can then be used as fertiliser to grow crops.


Isle of Anglesey Council leader Ieuan Williams said there would be more jobs as a result of the "innovative project", adding that the impact would be felt in the wider community and along the supply chain.

He said the plant cemented Anglesey’s reputation as an island for innovation and centre of excellence for energy projects.


Lewis LeVasseur, chief operations officer of Orthios, said the plant’s importance stemmed from it being a "solution for food and power generation for developing nations around the world".

He added: "The impact for the island’s population is the diverse range of skill sets that will be required to run and manage the eco park."

Anglesey Aluminium smelting works shut in 2009 with the loss of nearly 400 jobs.





The Orthios website gives more detail. The plant will run with 5 separate 60MW power modules. The BBC therefore are confusing capacity with output, when they claim it is expected to generate 299MW of electricity.

Although Orthios claim that it will provide electricity for 650,000 homes, this would imply 100% loading, something like 2.6 TWh/year. The BBC figure of 300,000 is closer to the truth, ie about 1.1 TWh, giving capacity loading of 42%.

Assuming the same strike price awarded to Drax, £105/MWh @ 2012 prices, annual subsidies at today’s prices would amount to something in the region of £80 million a year, a very handy rate of return on capital investment of £1 billion.


What is also interesting, and something that is not mentioned by the BBC, is that the project is being funded by the Chinese, as Orthios announced on Tuesday:


A Chinese investment group is to invest £2bn backing two innovative biomass plants and associated food production stations in Wales that will create 1,000 jobs and thousands more during the construction phase.

Chinese investment group SinoFortone said that as part of the £2bn investment it will back projects to develop energy and food stations, initially at Holyhead and Port Talbot.

The projects are being developed by Orthios Eco Parks.

SinoFortone is a privately owned investment company but its investment in Wales has been backed financially by the Chinese state.



It’s a strange world where we can force an aluminium plant to close entirely because of high energy prices, replace it with a woodburning power plant which requires massive subsidies to make it economical, with most of the profits  being exported to China, and somehow regard it as a success!

Still, at least we’ll get some prawn cocktails out of it.

  1. martinbrumby permalink
    January 29, 2016 8:07 pm

    Innovative my *rse.
    Lynemouth (coal) power station in Northumberland used to grow monster worms on an industrial scale in warm waste water. Fish ’em out and ship out to the mystic east, where the punters would pay serious money for them. Drax has been utilising “waste” heat for some years.

    Outside the UK, I went round one of the Geothermal plants in NZ (well, not actually round the plant, no admission there!) but they grew King Prawns in the warm waste water and Joe Public was daft enough to pay to attempt to fish for them. Lots of punters, few prawns caught (apart from those recovered by the operators, of course).

    All this nonsense ignores the obvious point, burn “biomass” at enormous cost and with likely increased emissions and certainly producing less power, But you can do it when you need the power, you don’t pay the “Carbon Floor Price” and all that nonsense. And your workforce get to work regular hours.

    All the rest is greenie window dressing.

  2. January 29, 2016 8:32 pm

    This STOR article in Utility Week might be of some interest to our host….

  3. Joe Public permalink
    January 29, 2016 8:45 pm

    Prawn crackers?

  4. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 29, 2016 9:34 pm

    Instead of farming prawns, if they want to do the environment some good, they’d encourage trapping signal crayfish. Tastier too.

  5. January 29, 2016 11:23 pm

    Bloody thing is 8 miles from me !!!!

  6. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 30, 2016 3:50 am

    Waste wood chips?
    Prove it.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      January 30, 2016 7:52 am

      That’ll be the same waste wood being used at Drax.

      • January 30, 2016 9:45 am

        Do they say where the waste wood is coming from?

      • JohnM permalink
        January 30, 2016 2:54 pm

        They certainly will not come from NW Anglesey. Very few trees there. Those that are there are wizened and bent from the wind.

      • January 30, 2016 8:07 pm

        “Those that are there are wizened and bent from the wind.”

        So you’ve seen my picture then !!

  7. January 30, 2016 9:44 am

    The 1.5 million metric tonnes of wood pellets will be shipped into Holyhead from USA, unloaded onto the existing two-mile underground/underwater conveyor link from the deep water jetty to the plant (you can see the plant end in the top left hand corner of the site, it’s the small building next to car park & is at an angle to everything else )

    From the blurb-
    “The energy centre forms the core around which each of the Orthios Eco Park businesses will operate. There will be 5 independent 60 MWe power modules and we will gasify approximately 1.5 million metric tonnes of biomass per year. It is expected that we will be able to provide 650 thousand homes with electricity by 2020. The excess heat and CO² will be recycled into the Eco Park to be reused for enhancing the cultivation of fish and vegetables.”

    What worries me is the not uncommon uncontrolled fires in the fuel storage, as at South Shields, Tilbury, Hexham & the latest one at Newport (40,000 tons smoldering for 2 mths affected people 20 miles away) we are 8 miles down wind of it !!!

    Biomass fuel storage fires list –

    Very little has been mentioned locally about the Chinese involvement. The local counselors & MP are strutting around claiming 1,200 construction & 500 permanent jobs, the reality will be less than half.

  8. johnmarshall permalink
    January 30, 2016 11:50 am

    Same question, where is the woodchip comming from?

    • January 30, 2016 4:54 pm

      Mainly Vancouver, Washington state, Oregon, Louisiana,

      • Dorian permalink
        January 31, 2016 11:28 pm

        Absolute lunacy this biomass plant.

        The wood industry in Canada and the US are heavily subsidized. So waste wood is supposed to come across from North America, that is already heavily artificially priced, to a plant that is further subsidized to convert thus price reduced wood into more heavily reduced cost of energy. So I have to ask:
        – When Canada stops subsidizing timber, which will be soon, they are in an economic mess right now, and the waste wood suppliers demand higher prices, what then?
        – What happens when the Canadians start building their own biomass plants, like, ?
        – Biomass plant in Wales? Hell, a biomass plant in Britain????? This isn’t the British Isles of 1,000 years ago, where there were forests everywhere!


        The idiocy is just gets bigger and better.

  9. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 30, 2016 12:29 pm

    Has the cost of compressed board made from wood chip been affected by the amount of the raw material that is now going up in smoke?

  10. Graeme No.3 permalink
    January 30, 2016 5:53 pm

    Even at 30% CF & £105 per MWh I get £82 million subsidy. There is the cost of the wood chip to come off, but if Drax find it so profitable so should the chinese. That leaves wages, processing etc. but it seems likely that this project will be quite profitable.

  11. David Richardson permalink
    January 30, 2016 6:18 pm

    Given all the mild weather we get these days – what could possibly go wrong? When I were a lad we used to wake up to ice on the inside of the bedroom windows!!! BUT you could at least guarantee the lights would stay on.

    We are all concentrating on the Winter storms at present that are going where they should, but giving folks in the North of the UK a hard time. There has been some news about the cold and snow in the USA, but I have not seen much about the cold and snow elsewhere in the world.

    Some interesting links at Ice Age Now over the last few days –

    scroll down a bit

  12. January 30, 2016 8:13 pm

    DRAX made the same wastewood claim. Your Daily Mail reported the truth 16 March 2014. Most of Drax pellets come from Enviva in North Carolina. Contrary to Enviva claims that they are just using slash/crowns left over from normal logging, they are using whole trees clearcut from virgin timber swampy bottomlands that may never regenerate even after a hundred years. A lot of us Yanks are very unhappy about the overt lies. SDEF has posted picture proofs from 2 Enviva pellet plants as well as aerial shots of the clear cuts. Google images will take you there to see for yourselves: pellets enviva north carolina.

    The large SYP tree plantations that regenerate commercial timber in 20 (pulp) to 40 (peeler block) years are mainly in Georgia, Alabama, and Missippi. The whole tree gets used for pulp, saw timber, plywood, and waferboard. Only thing left over is the bark, and that is burned to produce process heat for the mills. Nothing to ship to UK foolishness.

    It is likely Orthios will use Enviva also. Midwest and Pacific forests do produce wastewood pellets for local (residential heating) consumption. But not in these quantities, and at a cost and transportation disadvantage to Enviva in the southeast coastal plains. Probable lies about waste wood on top of green stupidity. Orthios isn’t prawn farming. Its subsidy farming.

  13. Patsy Lacey permalink
    January 31, 2016 9:31 pm

    Have a look at the reaction of communities in NE N Carolina. Article headed “Monster Enviva wood pellet plants invade…”

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 31, 2016 10:58 pm

    It’s worth noting that Wylfa aluminium production has almost certainly been replaced by Chinese volumes, so they gain all ends against the middle (us).

  15. Coeur de lion permalink
    February 2, 2016 8:54 am

    If they issue shares we could short them against the inevitable collapse . See

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