REG Bio-Power is celebrating successfully producing carbon neutral power from used cooking oil at an 18 MW plant in the UK.

The plant in Whitemoor, North Yorkshire, uses 10 Finning Cat 3516 BHD engines to produce electricity. The engines are fuelled with used cooking oil, which is collected by REG from restaurants, food processing plants and household waste recycling centres in partnership with local councils and waste contractors.

After being collected, the used oil is taken to a REG recovery facility where it is filtered into a proprietary biofuel called LF100. Once the biofuel has been produced it is transported to REG’s Whitemoor facility where it is burned in the Cat engines and the electricity is fed into the National Grid.Finning Cat engines run on used cooking oil

“While the engines supplied by Finning are standard, off-the-shelf units, the fuel system is specially designed,” says Mark Radford, project manager at Finning.

Reliability is also a major concern for REG as the Whitemoor site has been contracted to supply the UK’s Short-Term Operating Reserve programme, which is designed to supply the National Grid with enough power to cope with unexpected spikes in demand.”

The Whitemoor site itself is unmanned most of the time, with the control system being remotely managed by Finning. When the generators need to be started up, Finning engineers can run them from a central control room and let REG know that the operation was successful.

Once a call comes in from the National Grid that power from the site is needed, the Finning operators need to have the generators running at full load in just four minutes. The engines need to start on demand and must also go off load at a set time, or REG may be subject to penalties.

Finning – which is the sole distributor of Caterpillar engines in the UK – has also agreed an operation and maintenance contract with REG that will last until 2022, covering not just the engines but also the site’s boilers, pumps and high voltage equipment.