The Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant original concept was created by Eco2 Limited, a leading renewable energy developer in the UK. The project was purchased at financial close in late 2011 by a fund managed by Glennmont Partners who financed the construction through a combination of equity and non-recourse project finance debt at a total cost of around £165million. Glennmont Partners retained the services of Eco2 to oversee the construction of the project and now the plant is fully operational Eco2 manage the fuel supply.
Straw is a sustainable fuel source with short term carbon cycles which means that around 150,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved each year helping the UK achieve its renewable energy targets whilst bolstering the nation’s energy security.
Straw arrives at the power station in the form of bales where it is burnt in a controlled combustion process to provide both heat and electricity. Each year the project consumes around 240,000 tonnes of fuel which is secured from a large number of suppliers within a 50 mile radius. In addition to straw a limited amount of clean wood chip can also be used as an auxiliary fuel.
The project is located in the heart of the wheat growing region of the UK with all straw procured within a 50 mile radius of the plant. The combustion of straw only releases carbon dioxide that the wheat absorbs from the atmosphere during its growth. 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum is saved compared the same amount of electricity generated from a fossil fuel power station.
The plant has been designed as a combined heat and power plant generating heat as well as electricity. In 2016 Eco2 managed the development and construction of heat infrastructure from the plant into Sleaford Town. As a result, North Kesteven Council Offices, the local football club and primary school all receive free heat from the plant. In 2016 the plant generated 5,150 MWh, over the lifetime the project will save these organisations over £2 million in energy costs.
A dedicated community based fund was established by the Community Liaison Panel which is a partnership between the Plant and the District, Town and Local Parish Councils. The fund supports a range of community based projects with the objective of enhancing the economic and sustainability of the surrounding area. The Fund is in its third year and to date a number of organisations have bene tted.
Further funds have been established in collaboration with North Kesteven Council for improvements to the area including;
- Footpath Improvements – £200,000 for providing footpath and cycleway improvements along Boston Road
- Biodiversity – Biodiversity of the area has been increased with the planting of 3,000 trees with shrubs and grassland surrounding the site
The straw used at Sleaford REP is a by-product of cereal production. Cereal production in the UK produces on average around 13 million tonnes of cereal straw each year. Typically around 6.5 million tonnes of straw is used in markets such as power generation, livestock and arable farming and therefore the plant uses less than 4% of the remaining volume which was previously ploughed back into the ground.
The procurement of the straw for the project injects around £12 million into the local agricultural economy directly from fuel procurement and delivery as well as creating opportunities for local business to provide the power station with services.
The power station employs 35 people on a full time basis who all come from the local area and a further 100 jobs have been created in the fuel supply and transport. Furthermore, in partnership with Grantham College, the plant sponsors a number of engineering apprenticeships at the college.