London – RWE is continuing to study lessons learnt from the recent fire at Tilbury Power Station and said it will share all of its key findings with the wider industry in due course.
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, the company said.
On 21 June, Tilbury Power Station exported its first power to the national grid since the fire at the site 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,” said an RWE statement.
“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,” it added.
According to the company, when wood pellets in neighbouring hoppers were moved, significant air drafts were created. The increased levels of oxygen, it said, probably caused the ignition of the smouldering dust – despite fire suppressant foam having been used to cap the affected areas.
Although it has not been possible to definitively identify the mechanism for the escalation, this is considered to be the most likely cause, RWE concluded.
RWE added that it has implemented a number of safety improvements have been implemented alongside the repairs.