By Nick Mann
A major new energy-from-waste facility is set to be built at paper giant DS Smith Papers Kemsley Mill, near Sittingbourne in Kent, after developers secured the final approval needed for the project to go ahead.
The plant, which would be known as the Sustainable Energy Plant, has been granted an environmental permit. This comes after DS Smith Paper – formerly St Regis – received planning permission for the project from Kent county council in April 2011.
When built, the plant will treat up to 550,000 tonnes-a-year of pre-treated waste, potentially sourced from across the South East. This would be burnt to generate heat and up to 50 megawatts of electricity that will then be used to power the adjacent mill which is the UKs largest recycler of waste paper.
The facility will be built and operated by energy giant E.On and EfW specialist Wheelabrator Technologies, who will have responsibility for sourcing an expected mix of municipal and commercial and industrial waste, as well as solid recovered fuel, as inputs for the plant.
E.On already operates two energy generating facilities at Kemsley, both of which produce electricity and heat that is used in the Kemsley Mill operations. These plants a gas-fired combined heat and power operation and a fluidised bed combustor which uses waste from the paper mill as fuel will continue to operate when the EfW facility is up and running, to support the Mills energy needs.
The EfW plans are intended to make Kemsley less reliant on price-volatile natural gas, as well as helping to ensure the mill remains competitive at what the developers have acknowledged is a challenging time for the papermaking industry.
DS Smith Paper commercial director, Will Faure Walker, said: Using waste that cant practicably be recycled to help fuel the recycling of nearly a quarter of the paper recycled in the UK fits well with our long-term strategy to develop an environmentally sustainable business.
When planning permission for the plant was secured, E.ON and Wheelabrator said they were in the process of jointly tendering for waste inputs for the facility. A spokesman for E.ON told letsrecycle.com: Were examining a number of options and cant comment further at this stage
However, planning documents for the project reveal that it could draw on material from across the South East, and not just Kent. A document drawn up by consultants RPS to support the application states: Subject to appropriate fuel supply agreements, it is anticipated that pre treated waste will be sourced from Kent with the balance from London, the South East and elsewhere in the UK subject to commercial viability.
It adds: The available data shows that even after the regional waste recycling and composting targets have been met, there are significant quantities of waste available within Kent, London and South East.
At least 300,000 tonnes-a-year of Kents municipal residual waste is already tied up under a contract with Waste Recycling Group that involves it being sent to the companys 500,000 tonne-a-year capacity Allington EfW facility in the county.
DS Smith, E.ON and Wheelabrator plan to begin construction of the Kemsley Mill EfW in spring 2013, with the aim of having it up-and-running in 2016.