Bloomberg News

Firefighters Continue to Battle Tilbury Power Plant Fire in U.K.

February 28, 2012

Firefighters continued to battle a fire at RWE AG (RWE)’s Tilbury power station on the banks of the River Thames, 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of London.

Two of the three units at the power station, converted last year to run entirely on wood pellets rather than coal, were affected by the fire. The whole station was shut for most of yesterday. Unit 8 at the site switched on at about 9 p.m. local time last night and was generating about 95 megawatts as of 9:30 a.m. today, grid data show. The other two units remain shut.

Local brigades are “continuing to remove pellets from the hoppers while at the same time maintaining a foam blanket on the affected hoppers to prevent the fuel from re-igniting,” according to a filing on the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service website.

RWE, along with Drax Group Plc (DRX), International Power Plc (IPR) and SSE Plc, is looking to boost the use of biomass in its power stations in the U.K. The fuel is considered to have a neutral affect on the climate as trees take in carbon dioxide when they grow and release it when burned. RWE gets a subsidy from the U.K. government for using the fuel and doesn’t have to pay for European emissions allowances.

“It is unlikely that this would represent a killer risk to biomass, but it will raise extra costs near term for monitoring and perhaps longer term for improvements in storage facilities and handling,” Chris Rogers, a utilities analyst at Bloomberg Industries in London, said in an e-mailed note.

Power for the next working day rose for a fifth day to 46.60 pounds ($73.91) a megawatt-hour. The Tilbury station’s capacity is equal to about 1.7 percent of the amount of electricity generated at all U.K. plants at 9:50 a.m., according to National Grid data on Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Airlie in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at

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