Sembcorp plant to go full steam on biomass

A steam plant on Jurong Island powered by waste wood chips is set to be one of the first here to run wholly on plant material known as biomass.

The Sembcorp Industries plant, which will burn about 120 tonnes of wood chips a day, will supply process steam to other companies on the island. It will be ready in the second half of this year, a source familiar with the company’s plans said.

Just where the wood chips will come from is not clear, but an upcoming power plant on Jurong Island, built by Tuas Power and China Huaneng Group - expected to be ready next year - will run partly on palm kernel shells and wood chips sourced from neighbouring countries.

The size of Sembcorp’s investment in its biomass steam plant is not known, but it is understood the figure and plant capacity would be much smaller than that of its British power plant. The company declined to make a statement on the matter.

Completed in 2007, the Sembcorp Biomass Power Station in north-east England’s Tees Valley burns some 300,000 tonnes of waste wood a year to produce about 30MW of energy.

In Singapore, at least one small steam and co-generation plant already runs on biomass, though no full-scale power plant does so yet. Bee Joo Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of environmental services firm ecoWise, built a demonstration plant at Sungei Kadut in 2004.

The 1MW plant also produces 15 tonnes of steam an hour from horticultural and waste wood, and in 2008 was Singapore’s first company approved to earn and trade carbon credits under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism scheme.

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