A £6 million cogeneration facility being built in Alnwick, UK will kick-start a new focus on the renewable energy industry in North-Eastern England, according to business leaders in that region.
The new facility will use woodchips and biomass from sustainable sources from a nearby sawmill to produce close to one megawatt of green electricity per year.
“We have put a huge amount of time and effort into researching this project over a number of years and believe it could be really exciting for Alnwick,” says Graham Caygill, clerk of works at Northumberland Estates, the company behind the cogeneration plant. “The estate has over 4,000 hectares of forestry, so with this in mind we decided to explore renewable energy generation from woodchip.”
Since the plant will be using biomass from a Northumberland Estates-owned sawmill, Caygill says future plans for the entire project include relocating the sawmill to a closer proximity not only to streamline the process, but also to use cogeneration – also called Combined Heat and Power (CHP) – to its fullest capacity.
“It makes sense for the CHP plant to be located alongside the sawmill if we are to avoid wasting energy on transport,” Caygill says. “It allows us to make best use of the heat which is also generated during the process thus extending the renewables remit. We are proposing using this heat at the sawmill for drying with any surplus potentially turned into green heating for use by offices and other businesses in the immediate vicinity.”
According to an article posted on World Of Cogneration, Northumberland Estates already has a highly pro-active renewable energy policy, which has seen a Victorian hydro system restored to use on the River Aln, with plans to extend it to other locations in the near future.
“If successful, this project would be the largest to date and would put the Estate at the cutting edge of this technology,” Caygill says.