Official opening of biomass terminal at Port of Hull signals start of city’s renewables revolution

Ports & Terminals — By on December 4, 2014 at 6:06 PM
ABP Director Humber, John Fitzgerald, Dorothy Thompson CBE, Chief Executive, Drax; Cllr Mary Glew, Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber and ABP Chief Executive James Cooper in front of the Port of Hull’s dedicated biomass terminal (image courtesy of ABP / David Lee Photography

ABP Director Humber, John Fitzgerald, Dorothy Thompson CBE, Chief Executive, Drax; Cllr Mary Glew, Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber and ABP Chief Executive James Cooper in front of the Port of Hull’s dedicated biomass terminal (image courtesy of ABP / David Lee Photography

It dominates the skyline in the eastern part of the city and now the Port of Hull’s dedicated biomass terminal, built to support Drax Power Station’s conversion to a lower carbon power generator, has been officially opened.

The opening was conducted by Councillor Mary Glew, Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber at an event attended by representatives of Drax and ABP, as well as those companies involved in the construction and operation of the terminal.

Associated British Ports (ABP) will handle up to one million tonnes of biomass per year in Hull as part of a 15-year agreement with Drax.

The Hull rail load-out facility, which was built by Spencer Group, will enable biomass to be transported to Drax Power Station at Selby as part of an ambitious programme which will see Drax transform into a predominantly biomass-fuelled generator.

Speaking at the opening, ABP Director, Humber John Fitzgerald said: “The opening of this specialist facility is further demonstration of ABP’s infrastructure innovation. It underpins the continuing importance of our estuary in powering the UK.

“The Humber ports have always been integral to the UK’s energy supply and as electricity generation moves to a low-carbon base, we too are investing in facilities to service this transformation. Whether it’s biomass at Hull or Immingham, or offshore wind at Green Port Hull, the Humber ports will continue to be at the centre of this vital industry.”

Dorothy Thompson CBE, Chief Executive of Drax is also looking forward to a long and productive partnership with ABP.

“The Port of Hull has always played an important role in the history of our company and I am delighted to be standing here today to mark the opening of this terminal and the start of a new chapter.

“When we were looking to move to low-carbon power generation and we were considering biomass, we knew that the solution would lie with the ports here on the Humber. This fantastic terminal, and the facility in Immingham are testament to innovation, creative thinking and hard work and it makes me enormously proud to see the facility operational and officially opened.

The £16-million facility will handle biomass imported by sea from the North America and Europe in the form of wood pellets created from sustainable forestry residues and thinnings. The biomass is stored in warehouses before being delivered by truck to the new facility and unloaded into feeders which take it to a 250-metre (820 ft) conveyor, carrying it to the top of the silo.

The silo is capable of storing up to 1, 800 tonnes of wood pellets and is filled by 60 truckloads of biomass over a three-hour period, twice a day, loading at the rate of 600 tonnes an hour.

Sophisticated technology ensures an even load as the biomass is discharged into rail wagons which pass slowly through the corridor at the base of the structure. The automated system is capable of loading up to 25 rail wagons with 1, 600 tonnes of material in just 35 minutes.

On the south bank of the river at the Port of Immingham, ABP are also investing to support Drax’s biomass supply chain. Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal is a fully automated wood pellet handling facility and in its first phase, currently under commission, will be able to handle three million tonnes of biomass per year.

High resolution images can be downloaded here:


ABP is the UK’s leading ports operator with 21 ports and other transport related businesses creating a unique national network capable of handling a vast array of cargo.

Around one quarter of the UK’s seaborne trade passes through ABP’s Statutory Harbour Areas.  ABP contributes £5.6 billion to the UK economy every year and supports 84, 000 jobs. Our current investment programme promises to deliver an extra £1.75 billion for the economy every year.


  • Handled over 1.5 million vehicles in 2013.
  • Generates around one quarter of the UK’s rail freight
  • Has 1.4 million square metres of covered storage
  • Has 1000 hectares of open storage
  • Handled 119m tonnes of cargo in 2013
  • Owns 5000 hectares of port estate
  • Has 87km of quay

Over the next five years, ABP is investing over £650 million in a wide range of major projects across the group.

ABP Humber

The four ports of Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole handle more than 65 million tonnes of cargo between them each year.

Grimsby and Immingham form the UK’s busiest trading gateway and move around 54 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

£75 million is currently being invested in the biomass handling terminal in Immingham, in a Humber-wide agreement with Drax Power Ltd that has seen £25 million invested in a biomass handling facility in Hull. The Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal will handle sustainable biomass shipments and will create over 100 permanent jobs once complete. The construction phase has also created 100 employment opportunities.

The Port of Hull handles 10 million tonnes of cargo per annum and is the is the focal point for the development of the UK’s largest offshore wind turbine construction, assembly, and service facility, which will be located on the Port’s Alexandra Dock. This new facility, coupled with a new rotor blade manufacturing base near Paull to the east of the port estate, represents a £310 million investment and could create up to 1000 direct jobs.

The Grimsby River Terminal represents an investment of £26 million and allows large car-carrying ships to berth outside the Port’s lock system. This development confirms the Port’s position as the UK’s leading automotive handling facility.

More than the equivalent of 1million teus (twenty foot equivalent unit) of unitised trade is shipped through ABP Humber ports.

Ro-ro and container traffic represents more than 30 sailings a week to Europe, Scandinavia the Baltic and beyond.

The Humber ports handle more than 70 freight train movements per day.

Goole is situated 50 miles upriver and is the UK’s premier inland port. It handles over two million tonnes of cargo annually

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