New landmark as Spencer Group constructs biomass loading facility

X The Business Desk

Register for free to receive latest news stories direct to your inbox


A NEW landmark has appeared on the city skyline as specialist engineering business Spencer Group constructs a facility to support a major green energy investment at the Port of Hull.

Spencer Group has erected a silo tower at the port as part of a multi-million pound contract to create a facility to load sustainable biomass on to rail wagons to be transported to Drax Power Station near Selby.

Drax is executing plans to convert three of its six generating units to burn sustainable biomass as it transforms the business into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator over the next few years.

The silo tower is in a prominent position close to Hedon Road and can be seen for miles around. When complete, it will rise to 49 metres – almost as high as Hull Royal Infirmary and one of the tallest structures on the city’s skyline.

The main structure will be completed by a conveyor drive house at the top, linked to a conveyor belt taking the biomass from ground level.

Ian Atkinson, engineering director for Spencer Engineering, said: “This is a flagship project for the Spencer Group and it couldn’t be more prominent. We can even see it from our offices at Humber Quays four miles further along the waterfront in Hull.

“If everybody can see it, that means everybody can see the work that we are carrying out, which, of course, has to be of the highest standard.”

The silo is part of a system that will handle a million tonnes a year of biomass imported from the United States and Canada by sea to the Port of Hull in the form of wood pellets created from forestry residues.

After unloading at the port, the biomass will be stored in warehouses before being delivered by truck to the new facility and unloaded into feeders which take it to the 250-metre long conveyor.

The silo will be filled by 60 truckloads of biomass over a three-hour period, twice a day, loading at the rate of 600 tonnes an hour. It has a capacity of 3,000 cubic metres and will be capable of storing up to 1,800 tonnes of wood pellets for discharge into rail wagons as they pass through the base of the structure.

The rail loading system is similar to one constructed by Spencer Group at the Port of Tyne in 2010, which was then the first of its kind in the world.

As well as the mechanical handling and loading system, Spencer Group is constructing a new one kilometre-long branch for the rail network at the port; creating half a kilometre of new road for truck deliveries to the facility and putting in place connections to the ports electrical supply.

Atkinson added: “The Humber Ports is becoming a major gateway for biomass shipments and, because of its prominence, this project is something of a beacon for the rapidly-growing renewables industries in the Humber.”