Renewable energy from bales of straw

Last week, regional government representatives from Lubelskie in Poland and Telemark in Norway met in England for a closer look at the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant. Led by Slawomir Sosnowski, governor of the Lubelskie region, and Lise Wiik, deputy chair of the Telemark county council, the two delegations came away impressed by the highly efficient plant.

Logistics that deliver

Straw is the key to power generation at the Sleaford plant. Needless to say, the logistics can be challenging with a fuel of this kind. Not at Sleaford, however, where the logistics system delivering large volumes of straw to the plant runs like clockwork. The visitors were soon convinced that straw is an extremely reliable energy source, even for large-scale generation. Their overall impression of the plant was that it was incredibly clean, tidy and odour-free.

38 MW of renewable energy

Every day, 1,000 bales of straw are burned in a boiler to produce high-temperature, high-pressure steam, which is used to drive the steam turbine generator. The plant generates 38 MW of renewable energy annually, eliminating almost 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. What is more, the dry ash is returned to local farms for use as fertilizer. Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant currently employs 80 people: 30 at the plant itself, and 50 in logistics and biomass handling.

Quadrupling renewables capacity in Lubelskie

Similar plants are currently planned for Lublin and Biłgoraj in Poland’s Lubelskie region. A Norwegian company, TergoPower, is ready to invest EUR 230 million in the project. The two plants are expected to have a combined annual output of 75 MW, four times the amount of power currently generated from renewable sources in Lubelskie. TergoPower’s plans have strong support from the local government in Biłgoraj. Not only will construction of the two plants boost the renewables sector; their ongoing operation will provide an additional, stable revenue stream for local farmers. Construction will create more than 500 jobs, and subsequent operation of the plants will provide work for 160 people while eliminating over 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Clean, proven technology

Michał Dec, deputy mayor of Biłgoraj, who is in charge of economic development in the town, shared his impressions following his visit to Sleaford: “The plant struck me as really clean, and emission levels are surprisingly low. The investment is founded on good, well-proven technology, and the TergoPower plants in Lubelskie will be based on the same concept.” Mr Dec emphasized that the local government in Biłgoraj is willing to go the extra mile to facilitate the Norwegian company’s investment, so that the plants can be built as quickly and efficiently as possible. Photo: Robert Olak