Scottish firm BSW Timber has become the first UK sawmiller to generate electricity from biomass fuel with the commissioning of a £2.5 million (€2.25m) combined heat and power (CHP) boiler at its Carlisle mill.
The 3.2MW CHP Boiler is now operational and forms the latest phase of BSW’s £11 million investment programme in biomass energy across its mills in the UK and Latvia.
During the last five years, BSW has commissioned seven biomass boilers at sawmills across the UK and Latvia, resulting in total heat capacity of some 38MW to generate heat for the kiln drying process.
The Carlisle plant will provide heat for the kilns, treatment plant, and offices whilst also producing electricity to be used in the sawmill production process, BSW said in a statement.
The Carlisle CHP plant was delivered in partnership with biomass experts Dallol Energy.
Welcoming the commissioning of the new Carlisle CHP plant, BSW Timber’s CEO Tony Hackney said: “BSW’s current investment in biomass technology means that we are now saving more than 12,500 tonnes of CO2 (3,421 tonnes carbon) each year, across the business.
“The Carlisle biomass plant is our most significant investment to date, and has been delivered together with partners Dallol Energy on time and on budget.
“Adopting biomass technology as a heating solution has delivered both financial and environmental benefits in parallel with of BSW’s ambitious growth plans, with all plants set to create a return on the initial investment within two to three years. Not only does biomass significantly reduce our carbon emissions, it also makes overall site operations more sustainable.”
According to the firm, it is the UK’s largest consumer of home-grown sawn softwood timber consuming almost two million tonnes each year.
Much of the timber is dried in on-site kilns which were previously fuelled by oil boilers, with the co-products of the sawmilling process - including wood chips and bark – removed from the site by road transport.
By transferring their heat production to CHP boilers and using co-products as fuel, BSW said it is “significantly” reducing its reliance on road transport.
As well as the Carlisle plant, BSW Timber operates two 3MW biomass boilers in Newbridge-on-Wye, a 5MW plant in Dalbeattie, an 8MW plant in Latvia and two 5MW plants in Fort William. This latest investment was part of BSW’s agreement with the UK government, as part of their Carbon Commitment Agreement; in return the company receives a discount on environmental-utility taxes for ten years.