Biomass plant could power Edinburgh

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OUTLINE proposals for a £360 million biomass plant at Leith Docks that could meet most of Edinburgh's energy needs go on public show tomorrow.

The plant, a joint venture between Forth Ports and Scottish & Southern Energy, will, if approved, be one of the largest infrastructure developments in Scotland over the next decade.

It will process between 750,000 and one million tonnes of biomass material a year, brought in by sea, to generate up to 200 megawatts of electricity. It will also provide heat for nearby commercial buildings.

The plant, at Imperial Dock, will involve the demolition of a grain silo, the construction of a 300ft-plus flue and the move of a planned public park to another part of the Leith Docks site.

It will establish the docks as one of Scotland's main renewable energy centres and help to meet the country's demanding renewable energy targets by 2020.

Similar to biomass developments in Germany and Sweden, the site, close to a deep water berth, will comprise a boiler house, flue, a steam turbine building and biomass storage area.

The project is expected to create 150 construction jobs and 40 permanent jobs once the plant is up and running.

The release of outline details marks the beginning of public information and local consultations before plans are sent to the Scottish Government for approval. Application will be made under Section 36 of the Electricity Act.

If Scottish ministers approve the proposals the detail will then be agreed with the planning authority.

Forth Port's chief executive, Charles Hammond, told The Scotsman yesterday: "These proposals not only will create jobs and economic prosperity to support a vibrant local community, but they have been carefully developed to complement our long-term regeneration plans at the harbour.

"Leith is ideally placed to benefit from modern renewable energy in Scotland and we look forward to informing local people of our exciting plans and listening to their views."

The project is one of four biomass power stations planned by Forth Energy in an overall investment of 1.7 billion. Other plants are planned for Dundee, Rosyth and Grangemouth.

Together they could be supplying up to 5,000MW of reliable renewable energy to power business, industry and homes.

Ron Hewitt, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "We welcome this development. Among the suite of renewable energy options available, biomass is the one waiting to happen and it genuinely benefits from big players like Forth Ports and Scottish & Southern being dealt a hand.

"Two things are required to make it an acceptable planning proposition: first, that the plant is constructed to minimise emissions and second that the inputted material is of an organic nature. If you combine this with the potential for district heating you have the perfect energy- efficient solution."

Details will be available from tomorrow at Ocean Terminal.

&#149 Aberdeen City councillors will next week be asked to approve plans to heat the city's David Welch Winter Gardens – one of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions – with a biomass plant.

The Winter Gardens are currently heated by both oil and gas boilers at a cost of about 130,000 a year.

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