Building work begins on £1m carbon-neutral energy plant

WORK has begun on a new £1m carbon-neutral energy plant which is being created in South Yorkshire.

The plant at Oughtibridge, near Sheffield, is being built by the Infinergy company for refractory product firm Intermet, and will use wood pellets rather than fossil fuels to create electricity.

The system feeds renewable bio-fuel wood pellets into a furnace which burn in a “clean” way, producing steam but no carbon dioxide or toxins – unlike other fuel sources including coal and gas.

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A unique heat exchange system uses the steam to power mini steam engines, which then in turn create electricity.

Intermet’s operations director, Julian Gray, said the “revolutionary new process” would utilise waste heat fuelled by renewable biomass pellets.

“The waste heat will be used to dry our foundry products whilst at the same time generating electricity through a steam engine,” he said.

“The electricity will be consumed at the plant with any excess energy being returned to the national grid.

“Biomass pellets are a certified source of renewable energy and represent a far more stable fuel source from a cost perspective.

“We need to embrace new technology such as this that has the potential to help us in more effectively controlling our cost base and therefore remain competitive in the markets that we serve.”

Steve Mongan, of Infinergy, who also runs his own company Mongan Energy and is a mechanical engineer, has spent more than 30 years in applied environmental engineering.

In the past, he has been invited to present work on bio-electricity to select committees of the House of Lords and the United Nations.

Mr Mongan said: “Consider the 300 million years it took to lay down the world’s supply of fossil fuels – half or which is already gone – and now the world is using fuel faster than we can extract it from the ground and seas.

“It’s a sobering fact, which is why the future of energy has to be renewable.

“We must be able to grow it, harvest it and grow it again – just like we do with our food.

“Bio-fuels are the way forward.”