One generating unit at RWE's Tilbury, U.K., biomass power station restarted following February fire; other two generating units expected to restart late July at earliest

SWINDON, England , June 21, 2012 (press release) – We are pleased to announce that Tilbury Power Station has today exported its first power to the national grid since the fire at the site earlier this year. Everyone on site has been working hard to get the station up and running following the fire in February and the first of the station’s three units has now been returned to service. The fuel hoppers to the other two units are still being refitted and these units are not expected to return to service until the end of July at the earliest.

We have completed a thorough investigation and have concluded that there was no single event that caused February’s fire.

A number of relatively minor events that, taken in isolation would not have escalated, combined to cause the fire, which developed from a localised smouldering incident.

When wood pellets in neighbouring hoppers were moved, significant air drafts were created and, despite fire suppressant foam having been used to cap the affected areas, it is likely that the increased levels of oxygen caused the ignition of the smouldering dust. Although it has not been possible to definitively identify the mechanism for the escalation, this is considered to be the most likely cause.

To ensure the ongoing safety of the power station as it returns to service, a number of significant changes and improvements have been implemented alongside the repairs.

The conversion of Tilbury Power Station created the world’s largest dedicated biomass plant and, as the first of its kind, it was likely to expose new challenges and require innovative solutions. As a responsible organisation, we will take on board all the lessons learned from the fire and will be sharing all key findings with the wider industry in due course.

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