Blackburn Meadows Power Station is a biomass power station in Sheffield. It produces biomass energy by burning waste wood. Heat is also captured by this process, which is used for a district heating scheme for local residents.
What is Blackburn Meadows?
Blackburn Meadows Power Station is a biomass power station in Sheffield, close to the Meadowhall area. It opened in 2014 after three years of construction, at a cost of £120 million. It has an operating capacity of 30 megawatts.
It is operated by E.ON UK, an energy company who are Britain’s largest supplier of energy and renewable electricity.
Blackburn Meadows was built on the site of an old coal-fired power station dating back to 1921. This old power station was well-known for its two scenic cooling towers, which stood for almost thirty years after its closure in 1980.
The station produces biomass energy by burning waste wood, which is sourced entirely from British sources. Heat is also captured from this process, and is used for a district heating scheme for local residents. Around 25 megawatts of thermal energy is captured for this scheme.
E.ON has also created a ‘community benefits fund’, intended to support local projects around the power station. They also hope to create a visitor centre for Blackburn Meadows, which will explain the biomass energy process to guests, as well as paying tribute to Sheffield’s industrial heritage.
E.ON estimates that Blackburn Meadows powers around 69,000 homes and businesses across the South Yorkshire region. They also estimate that their biomass energy process emits up to 65% less carbon than equivalent usage of natural gas. (E.ON, 2022)
Businesses that are powered and heated by this biomass station include Sheffield’s IKEA, Sheffield Arena, Ice Sheffield, and the Forgemasters’ Steel Works.
Blackburn Meadows has also won a number of awards: the 2017 RIBA National Award; 2016 RICS Yorkshire & Humber Awards (Infrastructure award and Project of the Year); and the 2016 Sheffield Design Awards for Best Building.
Battery Storage at Blackburn Meadows
Blackburn Meadows is an innovator for industrial battery storage in the UK. Their unique battery storage system became operational in 2017, storing 10 megawatts of electricity generated by the biomass plant to provide stability for the National Grid. This is the first battery of its kind ever produced in the UK.
By storing energy in this battery, the power station provides resilience support for the National Grid, ensuring that the area is never without the electricity it needs.
The battery is part of an innovative new technology. It has the ability to respond to the needs of the grid in less than one second, helping to protect the supply of energy at all times.
Having this battery system in place reduces the area’s dependency on the national grid. It avoids the high charges that come with peak times for the grid, making the station more economically viable.
Roles in Decarbonisation of Sheffield
Sheffield has an image as one of Britain’s greenest cities, with its large population of trees and its commitment to renewable energy. Sheffield City Council has committed to a target date of 2030 for net-zero emissions, whereas the country as a whole is targeting 2050.
Blackburn Meadows, along with the other nearby biomass power stations at Templeborough and Holbrook, is a key part of supplying Sheffield with green, low-carbon heat and electricity.
In 2022, Blackburn Meadows will be activating solar panels at its facilities to power the on-site buildings with totally renewable electricity. This reduces their carbon emissions further, eliminating any dependency on fossil fuels.
In addition, Blackburn Meadows is also a centre of research for energy technology, focusing on decarbonisation of our energy.