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Robson renewable fuel system to be installed in Sheffield

Sheffield-based mechanical handling engineers win £14 million contract to supply and install biomass handling system at E.ON energy plant

Sheffield-based mechanical handling engineers Geo Robson & Co. Ltd have secured a £14 million contract to supply and install the biomass handling systems at E.ON’s biomass renewable energy plant at Blackburn Meadows in Sheffield.

Rated at up to 30MW, the new renewable energy plant could produce enough power for around 40,000 homes by burning waste wood. The plant could also displace the emission of around 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of taking more than 20,000 cars off the UK’s roads each year, by burning carbon neutral fuel in place of traditional fossil fuels like coal and gas.

Robson have developed systems for the power generation industry over a number of years with many successful installations; the latest multi-million pound builds were at Drax Power Station at Selby and Fiddlers Ferry Power Station at Warrington.

Robson’s engineers have worked closely with the E.ON engineers to design the biomass system, ensuring that the tight design criteria is met, including control of power consumption, dust and noise levels.

Robson have designed the biomass system to optimize lorry unloading, ensuring the fuel is fed in to the system at a continuous rate. The 4,000-tonne storage warehouse is filled from a trip conveyor, which is installed in the roof space and moves the full length of the building to create an even stockpile ready for conveying to the firing process.

The system ensures the fuel is screened for size, free from contaminants and steel that may harm the firing process, with inline magnet separators and reject chutes. Sampling and weighing equipment provide a metered delivery to suit the boiler requirement while checking the material quality.

The site was home to the original Blackburn Meadows 72MW Power Station, which closed and was demolished in the early 1980s. The two cooling towers stood for a further 27 years until they were demolished in 2008.

Kevin Mannion, production director at Robson, commented: ‘Robson is very proud to be involved with the E.ON Blackburn Meadows site. Robson is wholly committed to developing systems for the renewable energy industry, this is a great opportunity for Sheffield and Robson to showcase their engineering skills and manufacturing quality, particularly so in the current economic climate.’

Robson were awarded the contract following the initial selection of preferred supplier at the tender stages and have worked closely with the E.ON project team to develop the bespoke biomass handling scheme.

The mechanical build, which starts in 2012, will be manufactured at Robson’s headquarters in Sheffield less than a mile from the E.ON site. The plant is due to be operational by mid-2014. 

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