A new £100m biomass terminal planned for the Port of Liverpool will see it handle up to 3mt (million tonnes) of wood pellets a year as part of the decarbonization of Drax power station.

The wood pellets — to be shipped to Liverpool from North America — are a by-product of the commercial forestry and saw-milling industry and will provide the Selby-based power station with a new, sustainable low carbon fuel source.

In transitioning from coal to sustainable biomass Drax will reduce its CO2 footprint by some 12mt per annum, the equivalent to removing 10% of the cars on the UK roads. All of the wood pellets will be sent to Drax by rail from Liverpool to Selby ensuring there is no impact on the local road network.

The new biomass terminal, which includes a new rail loading facility and storage capacity for 100,000 tonnes, will be built by GRAHAM.

The new terminal is set to create an additional 47 permanent jobs at the Port of Liverpool, while construction of the facility and the supply chain will create up to a further 300 jobs.

The terminal is being built as part of Peel Ports’ ambitious growth plans for the Port of Liverpool, with the company already investing £300m to create the UK’s most centrally located deep water container terminal, known as Liverpool2.

Liverpool2 will enable the port to handle the largest container ships in the global fleet while at the same time doubling the port’s container capacity by 1M TEU.

The investments at the Port of Liverpool will drive jobs and deliver international trade to the very centre of the UK — representing a huge opportunity to fuel the concept of a Northern Powerhouse and help to rebalance the UK economy.

The UK Government’s Northern Powerhouse document ‘Transport for the North’ describes the north of England as the ‘freight and logistics capital’ of the UK, and Liverpool is centrally placed to play a vital role in supporting this.

Mark Whitworth, CEO of Peel Ports, said: “As a business Peel Ports is investing £300m to create the UK’s most centrally located deep-water container terminal at the Port of Liverpool.

“Creating a deep-water container terminal in the north of England is a vitally important component of the Northern Powerhouse and will help to re-balance the economy. Currently more than 90% of deep sea containers enter the UK through Southern ports but more than 60% are delivered to or originate in the northern half of the UK.

“In addition we are also investing a further £100m to create a new biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool, which will fuel the Northern Powerhouse by providing the wood pellets for Drax power station as part of the largest decarbonization project in the EU.

“Our new relationship with Drax illustrates the importance of east/west connectivity in driving growth and creating jobs in the north of England.

“In addition it shows how globally important assets such as the Port of Liverpool can be used to unlock the potential of the Northern Powerhouse by helping businesses like Drax ensure the security of their supply by putting in place well thought-out global supply chains.”

Andy Koss, CEO, Drax Power Limited, said: “The biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool, will enable us to further our ambitious decarbonization plans and ensure DRAX continues to lead the charge when it comes to creating sustainable, affordable renewable power.

“It is important to us that we measure the carbon footprint of every step in our supply chain from harvesting to transportation. By shipping to Liverpool and transporting our biomass via rail, Peel Ports have provided us with a logistics solution which minimizes carbon emissions and helps us maintain our low-carbon manifesto.”

Leo Martin, Executive Director at GRAHAM Construction, said,“This project builds on the experience we have gained from building similar facilities on the east coast of England. We will be designing and building a state of the art plant which will employ industry-leading technologies to ensure that the facility can be safely operated and maintained.

“Securing this project is very important to us as it cements our position as one of the leading contractors in the biomass handling industry in the UK”.

The new terminal is set to open October 2015 and will become fully operational in July 2016.

The new terminal, to be owned and operated by Ligna Biomass Limited (a company owned by the shareholders of Peel Ports Group Limited), is set to open in October 2015 and will only become fully operational in July 2016 when it will be able to facilitate up to ten train loads of pellets to be sent Drax per day.

When fully operational, the pellets transported from Liverpool will account for up to 40% of the total wood pellets consumed by Drax each year.

Although Drax’s generating units were originally built to burn coal, in 2012, the company made a pioneering commitment to transform the business by converting three of its six generators to burn renewable sustainable biomass. At the time no other generator in the world had ever made such a move.

By the time the third unit is converted in 2016, Drax’s carbon emissions will have been reduced by around 12mt a year — the equivalent of taking more than three million cars off the road or making Luxembourg a zero carbon country.

At 3mt a year, the wood pellets will increase the cargo tonnage handled by Peel Ports by almost 5%. During the 2013/14 financial year Peel Ports handled 65.6mt.

A 2015 report from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service recently said that “with responsible and sustainable forestry management practices ... wood pellets can deliver very significant greenhouse gas savings, compared to fossil fuels.” The same report also stated “an additional market for a relatively low cost product such as wood pellets will ensure a vibrant forestry sector that will create enough resources for all end-users.”