Could Canatxx Gas Turbine Plant Rescue Island Smelter?
With the prospect of losing around 500 jobs at Anglesey Aluminium smelter, would it be possible for Canatxx at Amlwch to build a power plant as originally planned?
Unless the Kaiser Rio Tinto Alcan jointly owned smelter outside Holyhead can find an alternative electricity supply when the contract with Wylfa nuclear power station ends in September, the local plant will close.
So how exactly does Canatxx LNG Limited fit into the picture?
Canatxx LNG Limited has an ambitious project which envisages a liquified natural gas (LNG) import terminal at Amlwch Port on Anglesey connected by a 70 mile undersea pipeline to an underground gas storage (UGS) facility at Preesall, Lancashire.
This UGS would then connect to the UK national gas grid system, which would draw on the gas in the UGS when demand peaked.
Planning permission has been granted for both the onshore LNG regasification plant at Amlwch as well as for the undersea pipeline.
The problem remains with the UGS at Preesall, where there is significant local opposition and the area is a site of special scientific interest(SSSI).
So what could Canatxx LNG on Anglesey offer?
The original application put forward by the company included a proposal for the construction of a combined cycle gas turbine(CCGT)gas power plant, but this was later shelved.
A CCGT uses a mixture of gas and air to fuel a gas turbine, and also channels the heat produced to heat a boiler. Steam generated in the boiler drives a steam turbine and a second generator, hence "combined cycle".
In the current circumstances, and given the political will, would it be possible to revive this plan in time, before the Wylfa supply contract expires?
The local planning authority would have to consider the possibility of fast tracking approval of a CCGT plant near Amlwch.
There would also have to be the chance for local people to see the proposed plans and for there to be a proper Health and Environmental Impact Assessment.
Would one of the major power generators such as RWE or E.ON be prepared to invest in such a project? And would Anglesey Aluminium be in a position to invest in a plant located at Amlwch?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be considered at what is a crucial time for the island. Now is the time for bold imagination and thinking outside the box.
As David Bloor, Managing Director at Anglesey Aluminium said recently: " We are fully aware of the significant impact on the local community, and will work with ...stakeholders to develop other long term options".