NPower Cogen to build CHP plant in Scotland

By Bryan Sims
U.K.-based NPower Cogen has been awarded �8.1 million (US$16 million) as part of a Regional Selective Assistance grant from the Scottish government to build a 45-megawatt combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant that would provide steam and electricity for Tullis Russell Papermakers Ltd., a paper mill in Markinch, Scotland.

The CHP plant, which is owned by NPower Cogen's parent company RWE NPower, would replace Tullis Russell Papermakers' coal-fired power station. Working with RWE NPower, the new facility would enable the paper mill to dramatically reduce its annual carbon emissions by 70 percent, and it would produce 6 percent of Scotland's renewable generation targets, according to RWE NPower spokeswoman Jennifer Crawford. "The reason this is such a big deal is that if we didn't replace the existing coal-fired power station at the [paper mill], it would have to close because, under European legislation, aging coal-fired power stations have to have the right cleanup equipment," she said. "It wasn't economical to fit just cleanup equipment to the [paper mill]. So, to replace it, we worked with Tullis Russell to find the most viable, energy-efficient option for them, and this was the best fit."

Crawford said NPower Cogen has all the appropriate planning commissions in place and that both parties hope to secure all necessary approvals by the end of 2008. To produce power, the plant will take in a variety of woody biomass that would otherwise be placed in landfills. The project's contractor has yet to be named, but RWE NPower was taking bids at press time, Crawford said. The plant is slated to be operational by 2011.

Crawford said 17 megawatts of power generated by the CHP plant will be directly supplied to Tullis Russell Papermakers. The excess power will be sold to the U.K.'s national grid. "This (project) has been very well-received by Scotland and the Scottish government," she said, noting that Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, was on hand when RWE NPower announced plans for the CHP plant in early July.

RWE NPower currently operates 11 CHP plants that supply a total of 2,000 megawatts of energy to the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. The facilities supply power and heat to industrial customers in the oil, paper and chemical sectors.