Solvay Energy and Port Authority sign shareholder agreement
Solvay Energy NV (a member of the Solvay international chemical group) and Antwerp Port Authority have taken a further step in the process that they started jointly last year, to examine the feasibility of having a biomass-fired power station on the Solvay site in the port of Antwerp. Last week the two parties signed a shareholder agreement setting up a special company for the project, under the name of “Antwerp Biopower.” The first task of this “Special Purpose Vehicle” will be to attract an operating partner. Together with this partner the company will then examine the financial feasibility of the proposed power station, after which the final decision will be taken.
Until the operating partner joins, Solvay Energy NV will hold a stake of 60% and Antwerp Port Authority 40%. There will be three directors representing Solvay Energy NV and two representing the Port Authority. The proposed power station will have a capacity of between 200 and 400 MW. The actual capacity will make maximum use of local factors, as well as seeking cost-efficiency through advantages of scale. The aim is to combine the lowest possible social cost with the highest possible energy efficiency.
Such a capacity represents the power consumption of 500,000 to 1 million households. Biomass is expected to be an increasingly important source of energy in future, as its combustion is carbon-neutral. In comparison with electricity generation from fossil fuels, the fuel cycle for biomass is self-contained. This makes it possible to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, in line with the 20-20-20 objectives set by the EU for 2020. As part of its contribution towards attaining this objective Belgium has undertaken to generate 2000 MW from solid biomass. With the proposed power station, to be fired by wood mass, the port of Antwerp will contribute as much as a fifth towards this objective.
Before a decision can be made to build the biomass power station, the project must meet a number of crucial conditions. Apart from the feasibility study the Flemish government will consider whether the project fits in with its own sustainability policy and whether it qualifies for suitable subsidies. Only then can key elements such as the capacity and the amount of the investment be defined and an investment plan drawn up. But already both parties are eager to go ahead and hope to begin construction of the power station in 2018.