UK company starts up waste-to-energy plant

By Jerry W. Kram
Energos Ltd., part of the Ener-G family of companies, has completed a municipal-solid-waste-to-energy facility on the Isle of Wight in the U.K. It's the first plant in the country to use an advanced thermal conversion technology.

The facility, which is sited alongside the island's waste processing and recycling operation, has a capacity of 2.3 megawatts, enough to power 3,000 homes. It's part of the British government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs New Technology Demonstrator Program.

The project uses existing infrastructure and equipment, including boilers, a steam turbine and flue gas cleaning equipment, from a former incineration plant. This caused some delays, according to Nick Dawber, managing director of Energos, as it took longer than expected to integrate modern process controls into the older equipment. The plant gasifies municipal solid waste (MSW) that can't be recycled and uses the gas to produce electricity. The project is the only energy-from-waste process in Britain that has received preliminary accreditation for renewable obligation certificates. Once the qualifying biodegradable portion of the waste is certified, the process will receive full accreditation. The company anticipates that its renewable waste content will be greater than 60 percent.

Prior to the establishment of the Energos plant, the Isle of Wight was completely dependent on electricity from the mainland. The new facility employs nine workers, making a significant impact on the island's economy. It will also incorporate a visitor's center as the company expects a great deal of interest from communities across Europe.

Energos pioneered its technology in Norway, where it operates five facilities in tandem with recycling operations. The company also has a plant in Germany. The company also has several larger plants in the works. It was awarded a contract to build an 80,000-metric-ton plant in Sarpsborg, Norway, and has planning permission for an 80,000-metric-ton plant in Irvine, Scotland. The company also submitted an application to build an 80,000-metric-ton facility in Knowsley, England. The Knowsley facility is expected to cost 40 million ($60 million) and take two years to build. "We are proposing a community-sized solution for local waste that would otherwise fill up landfill sites and emit damaging greenhouse gases," Dawber said. "We offer a proven, world-class, low-emission gasification technology that can help the UK build a much-needed sustainable waste infrastructure."