Glenrothes Energy Network: FAQ


How would Glenrothes Energy Network work?

Rather than using gas or electricity to provide hot water or heating, the local biomass CHP plant owned and operated by RWE will provide Steam which is converted into heat and hot water in the Energy Centre.

Highly insulated underground pipes carry the hot water to customers within an allocated area; at each property a Heat Interface Unit is installed instead of a boiler and provides the resident with full heating control and domestic hot water generation. This is known as district or community heating.

Fife Council provide your waste wood from Recycling Centres as fuel at the RWE biomass plant at Markinch. The plant uses 90% waste wood, providing local organisations with a lower cost energy provider and helping to prevent climate change. The remaining 10% of wood is sourced from sustainable Scottish timber production under long term contact from the Forestry Commission.


What are the benefits?

· Using a source of low cost, low carbon heating for homes and organisations in the local area

· Working towards reducing fuel poverty

· Generating heat from waste wood products

Community heating schemes have been well received in the UK, examples include Aberdeen Heat and Power, Glasgow Commonwealth Games Athletes Village, Wyndford Estate, Dunfermline Community Energy scheme.

A resident of Brownriggs Court scheme in Newcastle upon Tyne, Helen Speed said “I have lived in this property on the communal scheme just over three years. I moved from a property with an individual gas boiler which was much more expensive. I am using less energy and spending less money which is great!’’


Who is carrying out the study and when?

Following a comprehensive competitive tendering process, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff have been awarded the contract to carry out the detailed network and energy centre design WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff have extensive experience in assessment, design and delivery of district heating networks.


Who are RWE?

RWE is a leading UK energy company and part of the RWE Group. The company owns and operates the biomass-based combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Markinch. This plant is the largest power plant of its kind in the country. The plant was officially inaugurated in March 2015 by Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing and required an investment of over £300 million. The project created more than 600 jobs during construction and 40 permanent positions.


Who is paying for it?

The project team have secured capital funding from Scotland’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP), for the construction of this project. LCITP is supported by European Regional Development Funds. District/Community Heating is a key component of Scottish Government’s approach to meet Scotland's climate change targets and secure the transition to a low carbon economy in Scotland. To secure sustainable economic growth, Scotland aims to have 40,000 homes supplied through district or communal heating by 2020.

RWE will invest in the Energy Centre development.


Why Glenrothes?

In Glenrothes we have the unique opportunity to utilise the heat produced by the RWE Biomass CHP Plant, therefore avoiding the need to build one of the most expensive elements of a new scheme.


Will it be better than the last community heating network we had?

YES! Technology has developed in such a way that we believe there is potential for a cost effective community heating system to be delivered to Glenrothes premises. Modern community heating schemes are as flexible and controllable as domestic gas boiler systems. The difference users will notice is in the lower costs of heating and hot water and electricity supplies.


Which areas in Glenrothes are included?

This first phase is focused on the area around the town centre close to the biomass plant. The project will look at heating requirements of public buildings, commercial, industrial and domestic premises in this area.


How were they chosen?

To ensure the scheme is cost effective (and therefore capable of delivering energy cost savings to customers), community heating schemes need to include large ‘anchor’ heat loads. The town centre and Queensway industrial area, provides the greatest potential to maximise heat sales.


What happens next?

The construction of the energy centre has begun and distribution network will commence on the 25th June 2018.



· What is the source of the heat?

The heat will primarily be produced by RWE’s Biomass CHP Plant, however other potential heat generators will be considered for inclusion in the scheme.

· What happens when the CHP plant is off for maintenance?

A key component of the potential scheme would be the construction of an energy centre housing heat storage units and gas fired back-up boilers. This will ensure heat is available 24 hrs a day 365 days a year.

· Is there enough heat for everyone?

The RWE biomass CHP has the potential to generate enough heat to supply every home in Glenrothes. However the cost of laying the pipe network that would be required makes that unfeasible to start with. A small area of Glenrothes is being constructed to start with, and the possibility of expansion will be investigated in later stages.

· Who would I pay for the heat?

A heat supply agreement will be concluded between customer and the Council who are responsible for the construction of the distribution network.

· Who will construct and maintain the network?

The Fife Council will be responsible for the design and upkeep of the distribution network.

· Who will construct and maintain the energy centre?

RWE will build, run and maintain the energy centre.

- Key facts about RWE and biomass particulates

The energy sector is highly regulated and the station must comply with its Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Permit, issued by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). The Permit includes strict limits regarding emissions of flue gas, including limits on particulate emissions. Emissions from the plant are continuously monitored, and are typically 20 times lower than the daily average limit in the PPC permit. Any breaches of these emissions are taken very seriously by the regulator and could have serious consequences on operations from the plant.

Markinch CHP biomass plant has not breached its permit since operational.

The plume that comes from the stack comprises mostly of water vapour, and is a result of the high moisture content of the fuel being burned. This is a natural bi-product of the biomass process. It has no impact on the air quality.

The design and height of the stack is in order to push any small emissions the operations may cause to disperse in a much larger area.

The state-of-the-art plant replaced the outdated coal and gas fired CHP power station on the site of premium paper and board manufacturer Tullis Russell. It represents a reduction in fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by around 250,000 tonnes per annum, delivering a major contribution to the UK’s renewable energy generation targets.

The facility has an installed capacity of up to 60 MW and is fuelled by circa 450,000 tonnes per annum of biomass fuel. Approximately 90% is recovered wood waste and the remainder is virgin wood sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Various European legislation that applies to the power industry and the whole of the UK must comply with as part of the EU.


Could the Bowhill processing plant be moved to the RWE site?

RWE have been successful in procuring a limited area of the former Tullis Russell paper mill operation to enable the construction of an Energy Centre to serve the proposed Glenrothes District Heating Scheme.

There is not a suitable, local, alternative location to move the biomass reprocessing plant. Bowhill is a fully licenced plant that operates within a strict operational permit. Purvis employs 30 local men to operate the facility.

We will continue to work with the community regarding any issues with the processing site. We have spent over £150,000 on dust suppression technologies over previous years and will continue to look at further improvements.


Tenant / business / retail queries

· Will I need a new boiler?

No, connection to a community heating network replaces existing boilers with a Heat Interface Unit (HIU). They are similar in size to modern gas boilers and provide localised metering and control of the heat consumed, in a self-contained package.

· What modifications will I have to make?

For potential customers with electric heating, the connection would require radiators and pipes to be installed. Community heating networks work in much the same way as heating homes and businesses with gas boilers. For domestic users connection to existing radiators is as easy as fitting a new gas boiler.

· How much will it cost me to connect?

At this stage the project team will be reviewing all the charging options and taking advice from consultants on what works best on other schemes. It’s likely that some potential customers may want to pay nothing upfront and roll costs into their monthly bills, others (particularly business customers), would prefer to see the lowest ongoing costs and therefore would be prepared to make an initial investment contribution.

· Will it be cheaper than my existing heating costs?

Yes, when compared to the overall cost of heating a building. The energy cost savings will differ depending on the current method of heating. Those with electric heating will generally see the biggest savings. Connection to a community heating network needs to be considered as a long term investment e.g. for customers with a gas boiler they no longer have to buy and maintain an individual boiler.

· How long will it take to be implemented?

Phase 1 of the scheme will be constructed by the end of 2018. Customers on the first phase will be connected during 2019.

I live in the centre of Glenrothes, will they be digging up my property?

Apart from a small number of council houses the district heating project does not involve running pipework into domestic properties as part of the work covered by this application.

The works will entirely be within the ground in areas such as verges, landscaped areas and roads.

Work will not be carried out in tenants’ homes until subsequent years when existing heating systems are due for replacement. At which time, any disruption will be similar to replacing your gas heating.



RWE - telephone: 0845 077 0150 email:

Fife Council - email:


Markinch – Tullis Russell demolition Q and A’s

What is the current ownership and status of the former Tullis Russell site?

Following its closure and liquidation in 2015, Tullis Russell’s creditors now own the land that the former paper plant and Markinch biomass CHP plant stands on. RWE purchased part of the site adjacent to the power plant and demolished the building on this land, the Energy Centre is currently being developed on this location.

What will be onsite at the RWE site

The Energy Centre which will be developed on our operational power station site, would provide 90% of the heat needed for the District Heating project for one year. An integral part of the Energy centre will be six gas generators which would be used as a back-up for the station’s steam supply and when the power plant is not operational.

The building would be approximately 30 x30m x 8m high containing 3 x 4.25MW backup hot water boilers, district heating water circulation pumps and ancillary plant, an adjacent exhaust stack with four flues about 12 meters high within a single windshield, two outdoor thermal storage vessels and a separate switch room.

Will the construction cause local disruption?

Any local disruption will be kept to a minimum as the energy centre work will all be carried out on what was formerly the Tullis Russell Papermakers site. We will ensure we inform the local community of any large demolition activities. The building of the energy centre is far smaller in size and scale to the power station and the current paper mill building which occupies the energy centre site. The main impact will be the visual aspect. The building of the centre will bound by the planning permissions and any conditions set within it.

Will there be any additional emissions as a result of the energy centre?

When the power station is not operating, the heat will be supplied by the back-up boilers in the energy centre. These will be new natural gas fired boilers.

What will the visual aspect of the plant be?

The energy centre will be much smaller than the previous TRP building.

Who will be designing/building the energy centre?

The energy centre has been designed by the same company as the wider heat network: WSP and built by contractors Vital energy.

If anyone has any concerns or issues please contact RWE on 08450770150 or email

Twitter @investinfife