A special ‘first fire’ milestone event will be held next Tuesday at the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, due to begin operation next year.
The plant has reached a milestone in its construction stage and this will provide an opportunity to see it burn its first straw fuel that will generate electricity.
The Renewable Energy Plant, owned and built by Eco2 Lincs, has just undergone its ‘hot commissioning’ cycle over the last six weeks, venting high pressure steam to clean out the pipes.
Construction work started in May 2012 ready to enter operation in 2014. Generating electricity from the burning of straw, the 38MW power station is one of the very first of its type to be built in the UK. It will generate electricity for 65,000 homes and support employment of up to 80 people when it becomes operational.
The plant will supply surplus heat to Sleaford’s swimming pool, bowling centre, football club and North Kesteven Council’s office. Other measures include £285,000 funding for community projects.
Mike Harrison, Sleaford REP communications manager, said: “We have a policy of sourcing our straw fuel within a 50 mile radius of the plant with a majority within 30 miles – we will not and have no need for, biomass that is imported to the UK. A large proportion of our fuel needs are with farmers and suppliers on long term contracts.” Ash produced by the plant will be recycled as crop fertiliser.
Eco2 is happy to talk with local farmers to discuss possible fuel sourcing from surpluses.
Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU’s chief renewable energy adviser, says: “Crop residues would usually be chopped and go back onto the land after harvest, but with the advent of straw-fired power stations, there is now a growing opportunity for additional income per hectare. The NFU is pleased that power generators have taken steps to address farmers’ concerns, reassuring local suppliers and users of straw about their aim to create a steady, predictable fuel demand, while creating new markets for oilseed rape straw, for which there are few existing uses.”