Construction is now underway for the combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which will be owned and operated by RWE npower renewables and provides 40 permanent jobs in the operation of the plant and fuel-processing facility. It will provide Tullis Russell with steam, which it needs for paper drying, as well as electricity and helps to safeguard the 540 jobs at Markinch while reducing the papermill's fossil fuel CO2 emissions by around 250,000 tonnes each year.
This latest milestone follows the completion of months of enabling works at the site which included the diversion of one of the mill's main internal waterways, the building of a 29,000 Sq. Ft. roll store and re-routing of utilities. Construction is expected to last two years and the plant is scheduled for operation in late 2012.
Tullis Russell has been at the heart of the Fife community for over 200 years while RWE npower renewables has a strong track record for community relations around projects of this type. Both parties are committed to ensuring that local people are kept informed of the progress of the build and its long-term benefits. The first edition of a regular newsletter will shortly be distributed to homes throughout Glenrothes, Markinch, Leslie and Coaltown of Balgonie as well as local libraries and community centres. The project team will also be visiting community council meetings where local residents will have the opportunity to learn more about the project.
The biomass plant will not only provide a major boost for the Fife-based paper manufacturer by securing a competitive and secure power supply at a time of escalating energy prices; it will also be good news locally through reducing noise pollution from the plant. As well as safeguarding the future of an important local employer it will create a further 400 temporary positions during the construction phase. RWE npower renewables is also planning to source the biomass materials, which will be made up largely of reclaimed wood normally destined for landfill, from the area surrounding Fife and elsewhere in the UK.
The development has received the backing of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and it was awarded £8.1 million through a Scottish Government's Regional Selective Assistance grant. Earlier this year RWE npower renewables announced its key contractors. Metso Power will supply the single fluidised bed boiler and a gas cleanup system and Aker Solutions will provide engineering, procurement, construction and project management. Both companies have extensive world-wide engineering and technological experience in the field of biomass combined heat and power projects. Ian Calvert, Head of UK Biomass at RWE npower renewables said: "The combined heat and power plant is a significant investment by RWE npower renewables and is part of our ongoing commitment to invest in renewable energy projects in Scotland. Once built the Markinch Biomass CHP will be a significant boost to our portfolio. The 49.9 MW facility will supply steam and electricity to the Tullis Russell mill, as well as being a significant supplier of low carbon renewable power to the national grid."
Chris Parr, Chief Executive of Tullis Russell said: "This is an extremely positive development for Tullis Russell and helps to ensure a sustainable future for our business by enabling us to compete more effectively in what is a highly competitive market. It will also significantly reduce Tullis Russell's carbon footprint, making us a genuine low carbon paper producer in the markets we serve.
"The local community joined us in celebrating our 200th Anniversary last year and today marks a new chapter in this company's history, ensuring that we stay at the cutting edge of innovation while remaining true to our values as an employee-owned business which respects its local and wider environment."