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A new railway for Cumbria. It's not happening!


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Well not so much new as re-instated! As part of the power generator Centrica's plans to replace Barrow-in-Furness's Roosecote gas-fired power station, itself a rebuild of the earlier coal-fired one that closed in the late 70's, with a biomass-fired one. Centrica have revealed the plans to include a freight only branch from Barrow docks. This is to allow the imported biomass to be moved from the ship unloading terminal on the dockside to the rail unloading terminal on the site of the old power station sidings. A plan of the area can be downloaded from here - http://www.centrica....nt_boundary.pdfIf the power station gets the go ahead from planners, work will start next year to build the branch from here -

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The existing freight only line from Salthouse Junction to the docks. This is the grass covered line on the left with a run round loop. Used these days only by DRS nuclear traffic. The ''main'' line to Barrow curves off to the right. Turning through 180 degrees you can see Salthouse Junction with its ground frame to the right behind a stockade of steel fencing-

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The plans are to replace this bridge, hiding behind the sewer pipe!-

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With two new bridges to allow the 'new' branch to be operated completely separately from Network Rail's mainline. Note the sandy coloured house behind the bridge. Moving a couple of hundred yards along and looking back towards Salthouse Junction this is where the branch will start curving around towards the power station -

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Again turning through 180 degrees, you can see nature has taken over since the 70's. Believe it or not this is the sight of Salthouse station on the Furness Railway branch to Roa Island! -post-8271-0-05486700-1338370530_thumb.jpg

On the other side of the greenery is the only remaining piece of track! This is/was the crossing allowing entry into Barrow's coal-gas producing plant, before natural gas took over. There is still a ''gas board'' presence here, so access will need to be kept, so will probably mean a new crossing.

 

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On the other side of the crossing is now this! -

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Or from a different angle this -

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This area has become an unofficial builders ''dump'' which will all have to be cleared away before the track is re-instated. Looking back you can see the ''sandy'' house in the background, and the remains of Salthouse paper mills to the left, itself once rail-served with a branch from the docks! -

 

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From here on the trackbed has been used as a un-official road and bridalway and so is clear of obstructions -

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Although a river passes underneath here, so a new stronger bridge may be required. There is also access to the local gun club which has its compound behind the trees on the left, so another crossing will be necessary. The next photo is taken from the furthest point seen in the above photo, and the existing power station comes into view -

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Moving closer, this is the site of the entrance to the coal powered station yard. The gates are still intact, although haven't been closed for thirty years!

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On the right, the smaller gap is the route of the Roa branch, and is now a footpath and cycle-way. Although currently closed and diverted due to NW water workings in the area, I would think its unlikely to be re-instated if the railway re-opens! The last photo is taken standing on the site of the power station yard -

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The yard continued to the right of the turbine hall in the left background. This is to be the site of the unloading terminal. If the project does go ahead I'll post up some update/construction photo's in due course. Kev.

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Interesting stuff and even more interesting to see if it comes to pass although it sounds as if it is possibly a bit sounder financially than some of the other biomass power station schemes which have come and then gone in northern England over the past 18 months or so. These schemes appear to stand or fall on the availability and level of subsidy for burning biomass and at least two have fallen on that count in the past year, much to the dismay of various operators who were looking forward to them.

 

Another point with this one will be whether it stands on rail costs against any possibility of a conveyor system as an alternative but it would be good if it does come out as rail.

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Surprisingly a conveyor was ruled out at an earlier stage. It seemed to me the obvious choice to use the route of the rail line from the docks along the sea causeway that used to serve the paper mills. Although the fact that the local council have spent thousands refurbishing the causeway as a footpath may have had some bearing on the decision!!! The plans are currently going through the appeal process, and not very popular locally, but I'll stay out of that! Kev.

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Typical that the plans are not welcomed ,the lights will be going out all over the UK in the next five years as power stations close(Didcot coal powered is one) hope this goes through as we need this plant.

 

I suspect that the fact it wants to burn some waste plays a part in the local opposition. All the coal plants that were due to close by 2016 if they didn't fit flue gas desulphurisation has been delayed until 2019.

 

I am not sure that an 80MW biomass plant will put much of a dent in a 2000MW gap if Swindon A shut closed early!

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Thanks for the info Kev. As a Barrovian by birth it's always nice to hear what's going on in the old town. I remember the original Roosecote power station in the early 60s. There has been a lot of activity in the area over the last 30 years with the gas terminal etc. and the biomass development is news to me.

 

Must pop down for a look when I visit my dad next week.

 

Jeff

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If people saw some of the stuff that the biomass plants burn they would probably be even further up in arms - and most of it is imported including such delightful stuff as the leftover part of the fruit from crushing out olive oil, waste from board manufacturing plants in Canada and the USA and even crushed remnants of board with a high content of various adhesives and chemicals from the original manufacture and bonding processs. If some of the stuff is not stored properly and regularly turned over or moved it has a habit of spontaneously combusting while the dust in the storage sheds can be carcinogenic depending on what the biomass to hand actually originated from. But it's recycling and it's 'green' so it must be better than burning coal - even if it costs more and delivers less calorific value in some cases.

 

In contrast FGD at least delivers a very useful by-product which the electricity generators sell and which does't need to be created by its own production process. Personally I would be happy with FGD equipped coal burning power stations because they're more efficiency and don't need subsidy (although having said that we're going in for PV generation with a promise of installation completed before the end of June cut-off so we'll get the existing level of subsidy - marvellous idea seems that we get paid for generating as well as being paid for an estimated surplus amount we will put into the grid :O ).

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According to this months Modern Railways, it takes three trains of biomass to produce the same power output as one train of coal! I wonder if there's any drivers jobs going? kev.

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If people saw some of the stuff that the biomass plants burn they would probably be even further up in arms - and most of it is imported including such delightful stuff as the leftover part of the fruit from crushing out olive oil, waste from board manufacturing plants in Canada and the USA and even crushed remnants of board with a high content of various adhesives and chemicals from the original manufacture and bonding processs. If some of the stuff is not stored properly and regularly turned over or moved it has a habit of spontaneously combusting while the dust in the storage sheds can be carcinogenic depending on what the biomass to hand actually originated from. But it's recycling and it's 'green' so it must be better than burning coal - even if it costs more and delivers less calorific value in some cases.

 

In contrast FGD at least delivers a very useful by-product which the electricity generators sell and which does't need to be created by its own production process. Personally I would be happy with FGD equipped coal burning power stations because they're more efficiency and don't need subsidy (although having said that we're going in for PV generation with a promise of installation completed before the end of June cut-off so we'll get the existing level of subsidy - marvellous idea seems that we get paid for generating as well as being paid for an estimated surplus amount we will put into the grid :O ).

 

Some interesting comments there, Mike. I think Barrow and the surrounding area are used to the threat of carcinogens...we have Sellafield just up the coast! And if the biomass power station is bringing jobs to the local economy, they will tolerate anything.

 

Even Kev can get a job as a train driver!

 

Reminds me of Hartlepool, about 20 miles from where I currently live. They "imported" the ghost ships from the USA, vessels so wick with asbestos that any sane person would turn white with fright. But the ships were eventually processed and the whole venture tolerated because it generated jobs.

 

I suppose the same could be said as steamers were decommisioned and cut-up at Barry Yard. Can you imagine all the asbestos (and other crap) those workers must have put up with?

 

Kev, sorry if I've gone a bit off-track. I'm guessing you're from Barrow, so please forgive a fellow Barrovian!! :sungum:

 

Jeff

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If people saw some of the stuff that the biomass plants burn they would probably be even further up in arms - and most of it is imported including such delightful stuff as the leftover part of the fruit from crushing out olive oil, waste from board manufacturing plants in Canada and the USA and even crushed remnants of board with a high content of various adhesives and chemicals from the original manufacture and bonding processs. If some of the stuff is not stored properly and regularly turned over or moved it has a habit of spontaneously combusting while the dust in the storage sheds can be carcinogenic depending on what the biomass to hand actually originated from. But it's recycling and it's 'green' so it must be better than burning coal - even if it costs more and delivers less calorific value in some cases.

 

In contrast FGD at least delivers a very useful by-product which the electricity generators sell and which does't need to be created by its own production process. Personally I would be happy with FGD equipped coal burning power stations because they're more efficiency and don't need subsidy (although having said that we're going in for PV generation with a promise of installation completed before the end of June cut-off so we'll get the existing level of subsidy - marvellous idea seems that we get paid for generating as well as being paid for an estimated surplus amount we will put into the grid :O ).

 

FGD is not really the issue here, but the CO2 emissions. If you accept that our greenhouse gas emissions are harmful then you need carbon capture and storage on coal plants and probably even on gas plants.

 

The point about biomass is supposed to be that the CO2 emitted is pretty much the same as the CO2 taken in during the growing of the crop.

 

I was being slightly tongue in cheek with my comment about waste as air emission standards and flue gas cleaning technology is significantly better on many of these plants than on coal plants.

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FGD is not really the issue here, but the CO2 emissions. If you accept that our greenhouse gas emissions are harmful then you need carbon capture and storage on coal plants and probably even on gas plants.

 

The point about biomass is supposed to be that the CO2 emitted is pretty much the same as the CO2 taken in during the growing of the crop.

 

I was being slightly tongue in cheek with my comment about waste as air emission standards and flue gas cleaning technology is significantly better on many of these plants than on coal plants.

While I'm not arguing about the need to restrain/reduce CO2 emissions globally when we burn coal we are of course only releasing carbon which nature has previously stored - although as we are getting more energy out of it presumably the balance is that it creates more carbon (as CO2) than was originally stored?

 

The simple fact is that whenever we burn a carbon based fuel we will release CO2 but it is a relatively efficient way of turning stored carbon into usable energy and until we find a better way of creating readily usable energy we are, regrettably in many respects, going to continue the use of carbon based fuels along with fission based nuclear energy release and conversion into the sort of energy we need.

 

In the meanwhile the sensible thing to do - as far as I can see - is to make our existing energy 'conversion' systems such as coal fired power stations etc as environmentally acceptable as possible because, nuclear systems apart, there seems to be either no reliable alternative or no as yet fully developed reliable alternatives (which are also available at realistic costs over the longer term). Unless we can develop far better and more efficient ways of storing electricity wind power is a waste of time, solar doesn't meet all our needs (and is expensive), tidal energy has yet to be proven on a large scale (but offers perhaps the most reliable non-fuel source?) and we all have otherwise is nuclear and hydro-electric. While the latter is excellent we alas live in a country where it will never be able to meet our energy needs so we have a simple choice - to achieve reliable supplies - between fossil fuel and nuclear.

 

PS And if the panel installation goes ahead I'll still be on here on sunny days and I'll have enough left over to make a cuppa ;)

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While I'm not arguing about the need to restrain/reduce CO2 emissions globally when we burn coal we are of course only releasing carbon which nature has previously stored - although as we are getting more energy out of it presumably the balance is that it creates more carbon (as CO2) than was originally stored?

 

The simple fact is that whenever we burn a carbon based fuel we will release CO2 but it is a relatively efficient way of turning stored carbon into usable energy and until we find a better way of creating readily usable energy we are, regrettably in many respects, going to continue the use of carbon based fuels along with fission based nuclear energy release and conversion into the sort of energy we need.

 

In the meanwhile the sensible thing to do - as far as I can see - is to make our existing energy 'conversion' systems such as coal fired power stations etc as environmentally acceptable as possible because, nuclear systems apart, there seems to be either no reliable alternative or no as yet fully developed reliable alternatives (which are also available at realistic costs over the longer term). Unless we can develop far better and more efficient ways of storing electricity wind power is a waste of time, solar doesn't meet all our needs (and is expensive), tidal energy has yet to be proven on a large scale (but offers perhaps the most reliable non-fuel source?) and we all have otherwise is nuclear and hydro-electric. While the latter is excellent we alas live in a country where it will never be able to meet our energy needs so we have a simple choice - to achieve reliable supplies - between fossil fuel and nuclear.

 

PS And if the panel installation goes ahead I'll still be on here on sunny days and I'll have enough left over to make a cuppa ;)

Biomass is theoretically 'carbon-neutral' (i.e. it only gives out the same amount of carbon dioxide as the plants that produced it took in in the first place)- however that doesn't take account of the amount of carbon used to prcess and transport it. Coal and oil have a higher calorific content because they're the result of millions of years of carbon accumulation by plants, compressed into more-or-less solid carbon/hydrocarbons. Biomass makes sense if you're using locally produced waste, or crops grown on marginal land, but not if you're carting it half-way around the world, and displacing agricultural crops on the land it's grown on.

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Typical that the plans are not welcomed ,the lights will be going out all over the UK in the next five years as power stations close(Didcot coal powered is one) hope this goes through as we need this plant.

Yep, nimbys - the new luddites. Imagine where we'd be now if Nimbys had existed in the Victorian Era...

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While I'm not arguing about the need to restrain/reduce CO2 emissions globally when we burn coal we are of course only releasing carbon which nature has previously stored - although as we are getting more energy out of it presumably the balance is that it creates more carbon (as CO2) than was originally stored?...

No, nothing is created or destroyed. The problem is that when we burn coal/oil/gas/peat/wood,etc. the rate of release of CO2 is far higher then the rate at which it was originally absorbed by the plants. Even a narrow coal seam is the result of many hundreds or even thousands of years of plant growth (absorbing CO2), death and deposition. Burning the material converts the carbon compounds back into CO2 at a much faster rate than it was originally absorbed.

 

With biomass, the idea is that the CO2 resulting from burning is no more than that absorbed during the plants' growth. The downside of this, of course, is that these plants are effectively no longer contributing to the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. If the land used to grow them had been put to other plant growing purposes, the overall removal of CO2 from the atmosphere would have been a little greater. To me, that undermines the claims of carbon-neutrality.

 

Nick

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Didcot isn't a good example as it is only allowed to take a limited amount of water out of the Thames. Dungeness 'B' (amongst other Nuclear Power stations) is also due for closure, but again isn't in the best location due to coastal erosion from longshore drift.

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Yep, nimbys - the new luddites. Imagine where we'd be now if Nimbys had existed in the Victorian Era...

 

We had them - that's why Kendal isn't on a mainline.

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Biomass is theoretically 'carbon-neutral' (i.e. it only gives out the same amount of carbon dioxide as the plants that produced it took in in the first place)- however that doesn't take account of the amount of carbon used to prcess and transport it. Coal and oil have a higher calorific content because they're the result of millions of years of carbon accumulation by plants, compressed into more-or-less solid carbon/hydrocarbons. Biomass makes sense if you're using locally produced waste, or crops grown on marginal land, but not if you're carting it half-way around the world, and displacing agricultural crops on the land it's grown on.

I find it odd that what seems to be by far the largest amount of biomass burnt at British power stations is in fact imported - which doesn't exactly do much for our 'green credentials' when we ship the stuff across the Atlantic (for example) after a longish rail haul to a US or Canadian port and then at this end subject it - in some cases - to a similar port to power station rail haul as that used to move imported coal (which in quite a few instances hasn't had such a long sea journey. I really wonder if anyone has totted up the pluses and minuses of bringing in biomass in this way apart from the local impact of burning it instead of fossil fuel? And I don't think we're exporting saplings to - say - Canada to replace the the trees that went into the crushed MDF imported from there as biomass to burn at Drax.

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I find it odd that what seems to be by far the largest amount of biomass burnt at British power stations is in fact imported - which doesn't exactly do much for our 'green credentials' when we ship the stuff across the Atlantic (for example) after a longish rail haul to a US or Canadian port and then at this end subject it - in some cases - to a similar port to power station rail haul as that used to move imported coal (which in quite a few instances hasn't had such a long sea journey. I really wonder if anyone has totted up the pluses and minuses of bringing in biomass in this way apart from the local impact of burning it instead of fossil fuel? And I don't think we're exporting saplings to - say - Canada to replace the the trees that went into the crushed MDF imported from there as biomass to burn at Drax.

I believe this is colloquially known as 'greenwash'.....

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I used to deliver to the canteen at Slough power station and they burnt lorry loads od wood chip ,mark you some of it did catch fire recently ,does this project shove CO2 up the chimney as the local tree huggers dont seem active it cant be to bad?

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I used to deliver to the canteen at Slough power station and they burnt lorry loads od wood chip ,mark you some of it did catch fire recently ,does this project shove CO2 up the chimney as the local tree huggers dont seem active it cant be to bad?

Presumably, the chips come as a by-product from some other process, so that ticks the recycling and efficient use of resources boxes. On the other hand, it probably takes no more than a few seconds to burn the equivalent volume of chips to a single tree. So if a tree spent 30 years (over 900 million seconds) absorbing CO2, and around ten seconds releasing it, the rate of release is a mere 90 million times greater than that of absorbtion. I suspect the carbon costs in transportation pale into insignificance in comparison. We have to hope they have a very efficient way of removing CO2 from the chimney...

 

Nick

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