Bristol approves pyrolysis and gasification plant

By Caelia Quinault 

Dorset-based New Earth Energy has been given the green light to develop its first large-scale energy-from-waste facility.

Bristol city council yesterday (October 13) granted it permission to build a 7.5MW gasification and pyrolysis plant. It will be located alongside the £25 million mechanical and biological treatment plant which its sister company, the waste treatment firm New Earth Solutions, is developing at Avonmouth, Bristol.

An aerial view of New Earth's Avonmouth site, showing where the MBT (left) and energy plant (right) will be developed
An aerial view of New Earth’s Avonmouth site, showing where the MBT (left) and energy plant (right) will be developed
The pyrolysis part of the plant will heat waste to a very high temperature in the absence of oxygen to produce gas and carbon char. The char will then be processed through gasification to produce gas and some ash residue. It will be built in two phases, with the first phase costing £15 million.

The technology will be provided by Ethos Energy, a company which already runs a gasification and pyrolysis facility in Avonmouth, originally built by Compact Power and part of the government's New Technologies Demonstrator Programme (see story). .

Robert Asquith, New Earth planning director, said: “This decision reinforces our underlying belief that pyrolysis and gasification are technologies that will significantly boost the UK's renewable energy offering. There have several energy proposals brought forward for the area but we bring something new and the decision to grant planning, where others have been refused, proves we have a distinctly different offering.

“Our solution promotes the value of recycling and, being co-located with the waste treatment facility, minimises traffic movements and helps contribute to the landfill diversion targets the West of England Partnership want to achieve.”


Work started on the Avonmouth MBT plant earlier this month (see story) after it received planning permission in November 2009. Here, recyclables will be extracted from up to 200,000 tonne of waste a year before the organic fraction is left to biodegrade.

Between 80 and 100 tonnes of the residue will then be used in the thermal treatment facility to generate electricity.

Over half of the capacity of the MBT plant – 120,000 tonnes a year – will be filled by residual waste from the West of England Partnership, which signed a five-year contract with New Earth Solutions in 2009 (see story). The partnership includes Bath and North East Somerset council, Bristol city council, and North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils. The remainder will come from additional local sources.


An artist's impression of the Dorset Green pyrolysis facility
An artist’s impression of the Dorset Green pyrolysis facility
Due to come online in 2012, the gasification and pyrolysis plant will be the second energy recovery facility to be developed by New Earth, following the addition of a much smaller, 1MW pyrolysis plant at its Canford MBT plant in Dorset which is currently undergoing commissioning.

New Earth Energy is also planning to build a 10MW, stand-alone pyrolysis facility at the Dorset Green Technology Park in Winfrith, to take residue from the Canford MBT and act as a merchant facility. The planning application is due for determination next month.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a small-scale pyroplysis plant to be developed at New Earth's Blaise Farm in-vessel composting facility in Kent, to help power the site.

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