SOCOTEC’s Energy Team Provides Critical Support to Two UK Power Stations during COVID-19 Pandemic

26 May 2020

SOCOTEC has been working closely with two UK power stations to ensure the maximum electrical output is delivered to the National Grid during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The organisation’s Energy team serves as a key supply chain partner for Drax, a North Yorkshire-based energy company which supplies 12% of the UK’s renewable energy, and Lynemouth Power Station, a biomass power plant located on the Northumberland coast. SOCOTEC is supporting critical power generation services for both energy suppliers, helping them to remain fully operational during this challenging time.

SOCOTEC provides shipping services for Lynemouth Power Station’s biomass imports as they arrive at the Port of Tyne handling facility. The Energy team is responsible for the provision of ship superintendents, who monitor the discharge of the vessels, report on the cargo quality and provide draft surveys. Qualitative and quantitative analysis is carried out at the port and across all biomass products, with samples collected seven days a week and processed in SOCOTEC’s portside and in-house laboratories to provide Lynemouth Power Station with daily analyses of their fuel diet, helping them to maximise their energy production.

Similarly, SOCOTEC is responsible for the provision of shipping services, sampling and preparing samples of sustainable biomass on behalf of Drax. Superintendents are on hand to meet every ship at ports in Liverpool, Tyne, Immingham and Hull, determining the quality and quantity of each vessel, cargo or shipment and checking for any tramp material that may be trapped within the cargo. Sizing is carried out in dedicated quayside laboratories during discharge, before being transported to Drax’s preparation laboratories for the Drax team to carry out preparation and physical analysis. Samples are then dispatched to SOCOTEC’s Burton upon Trent facility for further chemical analysis, all of which is carried out over a 24-hour period. 

SOCOTEC’s Energy team also inspect port infrastructure and receive storage facilities for Drax, as well as managing fuel, oil and gas tank levels to support stock control and order/analyse the deliveries of these products. Additional support is provided by the organisation’s Oils team, who provide routine and emergency testing for Drax’s transformer oils, the samples of which are collected and delivered to the labs to be analysed and reported on as quickly as possible.

In order to comply fully with social distancing guidelines, SOCOTEC staff working on behalf of Drax and Lynemouth Power Station have been working shifts in small groups to minimise contact, with handovers provided to superintendents every 12 hours. Draft survey techniques have been modified to limit the time workers spend on board ships, while office spaces and common use items, such as keyboards and mice, are cleaned prior to the staff changeover. At the power stations, samplers confirm collections with control room staff from the safety of their vehicles, while collection drivers have been isolated from SOCOTEC’s preparation facilities and laboratories since the beginning of March. Samples are now dropped outside of their designated collection point, ready for receipt.

Mark Gibbens, head of logistics, Drax, commented: “SOCOTEC provides essential sampling and analysis services for the sustainable biomass brought to Drax Power Station, and I’m especially grateful for the efforts of those working in the field at this difficult time. As we continue to generate the renewable electricity that millions of UK homes and business rely on, our primary concern has been ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our employees, contractors, supply chain workers and their families. Timely joint planning and the implementation of social distancing measures has ensured that this vital quality control provision has remained in place during the COVID crisis.” 

Jonathan Scott, commercial director, Lynemouth Power Station, added: “SOCOTEC is a key part of our fuel logistics supply chain and continues to provide services for vessel supervision, sampling and analysis at both the Port of Tyne and at Lynemouth Power Station. They do this in a safe and professional manner and have adapted their work appropriately to adhere to the required social distancing measures, while also maintaining the high standard of service provided to our operations.”

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only served to strengthen our long-term relationships with Drax and Lynemouth Power Station, and our Energy team is committed to ensuring that both clients continue to provide critical power generation services during this period of uncertainty,” reflected James MacFarlane, managing director, Laboratory & Analytical Services, SOCOTEC UK.

“We would like to thank both Drax and Lynemouth Power Station for their continued support throughout this unprecedented time, as well as extend our appreciation to our hardworking staff, who continue to adhere to strict social distancing measures, all while helping to keep our country’s power generation services running smoothly.”

For further information on SOCOTEC’s Energy team and how they can support your organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.