GIB, Foresight back the UK’s first wood gasification plant

The £47.8m project, also backed by Balfour Beatty, Eternity Capital Management, GCP and Carbonarius, will produce enough electricity to supply 17,000 homes.

A consortium led by the UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) and fund manager Foresight Group is to invest a total of £47.8 million (€56.6 million; $77.9 million) into the construction of a 10.3 megawatts electrical (MWe) recovered wood gasification plant in Tyseley, Birmingham.

The group of investors also includes the UK’s Balfour Beatty, waste specialist Eternity Capital Management, infrastructure debt-focused Gravis Capital Partners (GCP) and cleantech developer Carbornarius.

GIB is investing £12 million in the project through preferred loan stock, while GCP will provide £11 million of debt. GIB is also indirectly investing £6.2 million in equity through its cornerstone investment in Foresight’s fund, which will be completed by the £6.2 million and £12.4 million respectively coming from Eternity Capital and Balfour Beatty.

The project, dubbed Birmingham Bio Power, will convert recovered wood into electricity using gasification technology, via which thermal treatment of waste allows for the production of a gas used to raise steam that can then be passed through a turbine to generate power. It is the first of its kind in the UK.

The plant will be supplied with around 70,000 tonnes of recovered wood annually through its 20-year lifetime. It is forecast to produce enough electricity to power 17,000 UK homes each year, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

The gasification system will be provided by Nexterra Systems, which has already delivered seven similar facilities in the US and Canada. The equipment qualifies for the highest band of the government’s Renewable Obligation Certificates, which secure a fixed 20-year inflation-linked revenue stream.