Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has commissioned a £10 million ($18 million) installation of direct injection burners at its Fiddler’s Ferry station in Cheshire. The burners enable coal, and biomass to be co-fired more efficiently, increasing the amount of biomass that can be used to generate electricity at the power station to 30% (by weight) of the total fuel required for two of the four units at the station.

The installation will allow the station to generate roughly double the amount of electricity qualifying for Renewables Obligation Certificates to around 750 GWh per year. The plant also enables SSE to generate electricity from a more diverse range of biofuels including olive pellets, palm kernel expellers, citrus pulp pellets and wood.

The move came as SSE announced a cooperation agreement with RockTron Ltd which is expected to lead to the construction of the first plant in the UK to separate the ash arising from electricity generation into constituent mineral parts for sale as cement substitute products and industrial minerals.

The coal ash is currently stored in lagoons at the Fiddler’s Ferry site and in other landfill sites around the UK. The process developed by RockTron results in the ash being separated into its mineral parts, mainly cement substitutes Fiddler’s Ferry currently produces around 300,000 tonnes of ash each year and there is a substantial stockpile of usable ash at the site. The plant, if developed, will process up to 800,000 tonnes of ash a year and by providing an alternative to the use of the limestone kilning process, it is estimated this will reduce carbon emissions by around 500,000 tonnes a year. Developing the plant would require investment of around £17 million ($31 million).