Fergus Ewing, Scottish Energy Minister, has formally opened Britain’s biggest combined heat and power (CHP) biomass plant.
The RWE biomass plant has been built at Markinch on the site of Fife-based paper maker Tullis Russell. It will supply all the manufacturer’s electricity needs and excess supply will be fed into the grid.
The Markinch plant fills an area equivalent to the size of four football pitches and its largest single component is a 213 tonne steam turbine. The state-of-the-art boiler system was designed and built by Finnish company Valmet which is the only one of its type in the UK.
The new plant uses a combination of ‘end of life’ recovered wood as its main fuel source, topped up with virgin wood and provides the Fife-based business with an environmentally friendly source of renewable energy.
The CHP technology used in the plant will result in a reduction in fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 250,000 tonnes per annum, reducing the company’s carbon emissions by more than 70%.
Ian Calvert, Head of Biomass, RWE Innogy, said: “We invested more than £200 million in the construction of the Markinch Biomass CHP plant.
“More than 600 temporary jobs were created during the construction phase of the project and 37 permanent jobs have been established to maintain the running of the plant and the offsite fuel processing facility in nearby Cardenden.”
Ewing said: “This biomass CHP is the largest of its kind in the UK and is not only an asset to Scotland but will also help us deliver our target of 11% of non-electrical heat demand by renewable sources by 2020.
“This plant has also helped safeguard 500 jobs in the local papermakers, Tullis Russell, which has been operating for more than 200 years.”
Biomass CHP technology is a more efficient way of providing the heat and electricity than their separate generation. Biomass CHP Plant converts energy from the fuel to heat and then electrical power. Fuel is burned in a high efficiency boiler, producing steam which is passed to a steam turbine to generate electricity.
As a result, a higher proportion of the energy in the fuel is used productively than for power generation alone where more heat would be wasted.