While renewable energy might seem relatively new, with the ever-growing concern about the effects of climate change, a Welsh biomass project was planned more than a decade ago. RSK specialists wrote an environmental impact assessment report for a 49-MW electrical biomass power plant in Newport, South Wales. Biomass is fuel developed from organic materials that would otherwise go to waste, such as scrap lumber, forest debris, certain crops and manure. One of the benefits, besides the obvious carbon offset, is the abundance of sources, which, unlike wind or solar power, are not dependent on the weather.
The Welsh plant was proposed in response to the government’s call for more UK energy generation from renewable sources following the 1997 Kyoto Agreement. The development sits at the confluence of the Usk and Ebbw rivers in the Severn Estuary, which are areas protected by numerous international conservation designations. The Newport power plant will burn 370,000 t of clean biomass fuel each year, which is enough energy to supply electricity to 50,000 homes in the area.
RSK completed the environmental impact assessment. Its in-house and regionally placed experts carried out various assessments (landscape, flood consequence, noise and air quality), surveys (ecological and archaeological) and investigations (geotechnical). RSK continued to actively support the project before it received full planning consent by providing planning and construction-phase support and obtaining and progressing permits.