We want to make sure that we answer all the questions you have about us and our project. To help you find out what you’d like to know, we’ve put together the answers to the questions we get asked most often. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here then please do contact us and ask, we’re always happy to help. As new and different questions come up we will continue to add the answers, so please do visit this page again for updates.
What is biomass?
Biomass is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. Scientifically this applies to animal matter as well, however when we talk about biomass for energy generation we always mean plant material. This can be wood, straw, food waste or other energy crops such as miscanthus for example. At our Kent combined CHP plant we use wood from local woodlands to generate our energy.
How does a biomass power plant work?
Biomass plants work in much the same way as a coal fired power station. The biomass, in our case wood, is processed, chipped and then burnt at really high temperatures. This heat is used to turn water into steam which then powers a turbine, generating electricity. This energy is then used by businesses and organisations in Discovery Park, with the excess, about 80% being carried by cable to the national grid to be used across the region.
Does burning biomass emit more harmful greenhouse gases than coal?
No. Our biomass power plant is saving in the region of 150,000 tons of polluting CO2 every year. The difference between using biomass and coal or other fossil fuels is simply that the carbon released through burning biomass has only very recently been absorbed from the environment so is part of the existing carbon cycle, the carbon from fossil fuels was absorbed millions of years ago so when released adds to the carbon in the atmosphere. Furthermore, waste wood not collected and used in this way is often disposed in landfill, where it decomposes releasing methane, a gas around 20 times more harmful to the environment than CO2.
How much wood will you need to burn very year for the power plant to run at full capacity?
We are working with Euroforest Ltd. to supply all the wood we will need for our CHP plant. We are using around 240,000 tons of locally grown wood every year.
What happens to the electricity that is generated?
About 15% to 20% of all the clean, green electricity generated is used by the businesses and activities operating in Discovery Park, with the rest carried through cables and fed directly into the national grid for use by homes across the region. Steam is also created as a key part of the process of power generation and this is also being captured to provide renewable heat for Discovery Park tenants too.
Will your power plant be noisy when it’s operational?
No. The processes we use to generate electricity do not create much noise. In fact any noise we do make you probably won’t be able to hear, as it will be lost in the background noise of the local area.