Power station boost

Artist's impression of E.On's planned biomass energy plant at Blackburn Meadows, near Sheffield
Artist's impression of E.On's planned biomass energy plant at Blackburn Meadows, near Sheffield

A SHEFFIELD company has secured a £14m contract as part of the £120m renewable energy plant to be built near the site of the old Tinsley cooling towers, next to the M1.

Mechanical handling engineers Geo Robson & Co Ltd, of Coleford Road, Darnall, will supply and install the biomass handling systems at the E.ON development at Blackburn Meadows, which will burn waste wood to produce electricity for around 40,000 homes.

Robson has developed systems for the power generation industry over many years, including multi-million-pound projects at Drax Power Station, Selby, and Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, Warrington.

Engineers at Robson worked closely with E.ON to design the biomass system, ensuring issues such as power consumption and dust and noise levels are controlled.

The Sheffield company has designed a system to optimise lorry unloading, to ensure the fuel is fed into the system at a continuous rate and a storage warehouse is filled from a tripper conveyor, which is installed in the roof space and moves the full length of the building to create an even stockpile ready for conveying to the firing process.

The site was home to the original Blackburn Meadows Power Station, which closed and was demolished in the early 1980s. The two cooling towers stood for a further 27 years until they were demolished in 2008.

Robson production director Kevin Mannion said: “This is a great opportunity for Sheffield and Robson to showcase their engineering skills and manufacturing quality, particularly so in the current economic climate.”

The biomass power station is being seen as a potential new landmark next to the M1 and construction is due to start next month, with the mechanical build next year, using Robson’s headquarters less than a mile from the E.ON site. The plant is scheduled to be operational by mid-2014.

E.ON says it will use UK sourced recycled waste wood to power the plant and, as far as is possible, will use local companies throughout the construction of the energy plant. It is expected that the project will generate up to 30megawatts and around 30 full-time jobs.

Dave Rogers, regional director for renewables, said: “As our commitment to Sheffield demonstrates, we’re leading the development of renewable energy in the UK and biomass power stations, such as Blackburn Meadows, form an important part of that low-carbon solution.”

E.ON’s commitment extends to a community benefits fund worth up to £25,000 a year to support local projects throughout the lifetime of the plant and £500,000 towards a permanent piece of artwork as a replacement for the cooling towers.