£200m plant at his fingertips

The biomass plant in Markinch may now be up and running, but for plant manager Ian Gaunt the work never stops. Pic: George McLuskie
The biomass plant in Markinch may now be up and running, but for plant manager Ian Gaunt the work never stops. Pic: George McLuskie
0
Have your say

When the Scottish Energy Secretary declares theMarkinch biomass plant officially open tomorrow (Thursday), it marks the end of a six year process involving hundreds of people.

From the commencement of the first site clearances in 2009, to the final plant commissioning procedures completed in December last year, one man who has arguably been more ‘involved’ than anyone is Ian Gaunt, biomass owner RWE Innogy’s plant operations manager.

Certainly it’s by far the biggest project I’ve ever been involved in

Ian Gaunt

Since 2011, Ian has been at the heart of just about every decision that made the £200 million plus investment become reality.

He’s the first to admit however that the sheer magnitude of the task has surprised even him and he said even now he finds himself occasionally stopping to take in the various aspects of the plant.

“Certainly it’s by far the biggest project I’ve ever been involved in and there were times when I wondered if we’d ever get to see a fully functioning plan, I can’t underestimate the effort, the man hours spent problem solving and engineer call outs that has taken place just to get us to today.” Ian told the Gazette.

“The efforts required to continue supplying Tullis Russell with their power needs throughout the construction process was probably underestimated and threw up some, shall we say, interesting challenges.”

With the well documented and often problematic commissioning period taking 12 months longer than expected to complete, arguably one of Ian’s, and RWE Innogy’s biggest challenges, was to convince the public that the technology was not only safe, but worthwhile and an asset to the Glenrothes area.

“I’ve moved my family to the area and live only four miles away, so I, like the rest of the public, have a vested interest,” he explained.

“Informing the public and gaining their trust have been two of my main roles. We’ve all come a long way and I have tried to remain sensitive throughout to the issues raised by the public.”

Tomorrow’s inauguration is recognition to that effort, but while others celebrate Ian already has one eye on the next phase off assessing the impact and efficiency of the plant.

“I’m glad to reach this point but the work to improve continues,” added Ian.