The culmination of six years of planning and construction, involving more than 2.6 million man hours, was recognised on Thursday with the official inauguration of the Markinch biomass plant.
The RWE Innogy-operated combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which has been built at a final cost nearing £300 million, was declared open by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism.
Mr Ewing said the plant, which is the biggest of its kind to be built in the UK, is the “flagship facility” in Scotland’s renewable energy programme.
The state-of-the-art facility replaces the former 1950s coal and gas fired power station on the site of paper manufacturer Tullis Russell and represents a reduction in fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions by around 250,000 tonnes per annum, delivering a major contribution to the UK’s renewable energy generation targets.
It has also been a major factor in securing the future of 500 jobs at the mill.
“High energy costs for Tullis Russell were a real problem so the solution we see before us today will substantially cut the energy bill and help sustain the future employment of 500 people in Fife,” the Energy Minister told the Gazette.
The Markinch plant is a flagship plant in our heat renewables programmeFergus Ewing MSP
He added: “It’s a first class example of professionalism in engineering that we have here; the scale is phenomenal.
“This is a great day for the local community and also for Scotland. The Markinch plant is a flagship plant in our heat renewables programme.
“We have to meet the 11 per cent target of out heat requirements from renewables infrastructure by 2020. At present, we are at three per cent. This plant will help us move significantly towards achieving our goals.”
Chris Parr, chief executive of Tullis Russell Group, said: “This has been a major project for Fife and for our business, the importance of which cannot be overstated.”
The project was part-financed with an £8.1 million Scottish Government grant.
Enough excess power to service 45,000 homes and businesses
The six-year project to build the UK’s largest biomass combined heat and power (CHP) plant has been described by the man responsible for running the £300m facility as a “quantum leap” in terms of the coal-powered plant it replaces.
With a footprint the size of four football pitches and involving an estimated 2.6m man hours, the finished plant provides all of paper manufacturer Tullis Russell’s steam requirements, as well as producing 65 mega watts of renewable energy.
The largest single component of the plant 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.
An 18 metre-long bridge, spanning the River Leven, has been built as part of the site’s internal road network.
Around 216 tonnes per hour of high pressure/high temperature steam is used directly for Tullis Russell’s processes.
There is enough excess power to service around 45,000 homes and businesses, which is fed back to the local network.