A POWER plant in the shadow of Tinsley Viaduct has been named one of the UK’s best new buildings.
E.ON’s Blackburn Meadows renewable energy plant sited on the spot where the much-loved Tinsley Towers used to stand is among the winners of the 2017 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) national awards, with judges commenting on its “iconic and beautiful” design.
The biomass combined heat-and-power plant easily identified by its distinctive orange roof, which appears to glow when lit up at nightis one of 49 new buildings across the UK to have received 2017 RIBA National Awards, which champion and celebrate the best architecture in the UK and around the world.
It will now be considered for the shortlist of the RIBA Stirling Prize, for the UK’s best building of the year, with the winner to be announced in October.
Functional as well as attractive, the 30MW plant can produce enough power for around 40,000 homes by converting recycled waste wood into electricity.
The heat captured during its electricity generation process is diverted for use in a district heating scheme supplying customers including Forgemasters, the Motorpoint Arena and Ice Sheffield.
The power plant was described by its design team as “providing a striking new landmark in the place of the demolished Tinsley Cooling Towers” which would act as a “beacon of sustainable energy production”.
David Topping, director of business heat and power solutions at E.ON, said: “Blackburn Meadows is already a real example of the new energy world a renewable energy plant that provides both electricity to the grid and a more sustainable and affordable source of heating and hot water to local businesses.
“The Tinsley site has been home to power generation for almost 100 years and it is a huge honour to be told that the design of the new site is continuing to provide an iconic landmark for the area.”
Stephen Marshall, director of architects BDP, said: “It is an honour to be included in this year’s national awards and particularly pleasing to see an infrastructure project recognised for its contribution to architecture.
“The design was naturally driven by the process engineering within but extended from the realm of the purely functional to the poetic, referencing the local industrial vernacular and the intense heat at the heart of the energy-making process.”
RIBA president Jane Duncan said the Blackburn Meadows plant “shows that contemporary British industrial and infrastructure architecture can be as iconic and as beautiful as its Victorian predecessors”.
E.ON is also installing 10MW of batteries at the Blackburn Meadows site in a project that will help stabilise the frequency on the national grid and balance the range of power generation available.
The lithium-ion batteries are housed in four shipping containers and will be able to hold the same amount of energy as 500,000 mobile phone batteries.