Markinch CHP Biomass Plant

A major addition to the Scottish Government’s plan for a more sustainable energy future in Scotland was reached in March 2015 with Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, officially opening RWE’s Markinch CHP Biomass Plant in Fife, Scotland.

The state-of-the-art plant replaced the outdated coal and gas fired CHP power station on the site of premium paper and board manufacturer Tullis Russell. It represents a reduction in fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by around 250,000 tonnes per annum, delivering a major contribution to the UK’s renewable energy generation targets.

The facility has an installed capacity of up to 53 MW and is fuelled by circa 450,000 tonnes per annum of biomass fuel. Approximately 90% is recovered wood waste and the remainder is virgin wood sourced from sustainably managed forests.

RWE worked in partnership with Tullis Russell, the Scottish Government, Fife Council and local community and Community Council’s throughout the construction of the plant. Over 600 temporary jobs were created during the construction process and around 40 additional permanent jobs have been created at Markinch and the Offsite Fuel Processing Facility at Cardenden.

The plant had been generating power to Tullis Russell Papermakers and the local network since February 2014. However, following the paper plants closure, the station has operated in ‘power only mode’ at full capacity, purchasing and consuming the same volumes of fuel as originally planned.

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The Markinch Power Station 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.

During operation a white plume of steam from the stack may be visible. The plume consists of water vapour and is a result of the high moisture content of the fuel being burned. This is a natural bi-product of the biomass process. It has no impact on the air quality.

The plant is fuelled by both recovered and virgin wood, with virgin logs being chipped at the off-site Fuel Processing Facility at the former Bowhill Colliery site in Cardenden. Operated by The Purvis Group, the site chips, stores and supplies fuel to Markinch. Each month, the facility chips up to 6,500 tonnes of virgin wood supplied from a number of Forestry Commission Scotland certified sources. The site can also store 25,000 tonnes of recovered wood each year. The recovered wood is diverted from landfill.

Did you know?

An 18 metre long bridge spanning the River Leven has been built as part of the site’s internal road network.

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 and at the time of building was the most advanced of its type in the UK.