Carbon capture to create 1,180 jobs at Viridor

Plans by Viridor to invest “up to £1 billion” into carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology at five of its energy recovery sites were unveiled today.

Viridor's initial focus will be on its Runcorn plant, and is likely to be funded by a government subsidy scheme

The energy from waste and recycling business said the investment could create 1,180 jobs, and the move would be funded by a government subsidy system set to be set up soon.

Viridor’s announcement forms part of a £9.7 billion package of 18 investments the Prime Minister announced today at the Global Investment Summit.

A statement from Downing Street said “at least 30,000 new jobs” will be created off the back of the investments, and will support “growth in vital sectors” including CCUS. It said said this would “cement the UK’s climate leadership for COP26 and beyond”.

Boris Johnson said: “The world’s top investors have seen the massive potential in the UK for growth and innovation in the industries of the future. The fantastic £9.7 billion of new investment we have secured today will power our economic recovery, creating thousands of jobs and helping to level up across the country.

“This is just the start. We will see new partnerships for green growth forged at today’s Global Investment Summit, as we look ahead to COP26 and beyond”.

Viridor stands ready to invest in developing world-leading carbon capture technology

–Kevin Bradshaw, chief executive, Viridor

CCUS

Viridor said it has been working with the government in recent months on policy development around funding mechanisms to support CCUS at energy from waste plants.

This support is likely to take the form of a type of contracts for difference scheme, which will see government subsidies given to EfW operators for the carbon which is captured at plants. This system is similar to that used for solar and wind power stations, as well as the subsidy given to waste wood biomass plants under the Renewable Energy Obligation Certificate (ROC) system.

The initial focus from Viridor will be on rolling out the technology at its Runcorn facility, the largest plant in the UK, before also looking to introduce CCS at two other plants in England, the Dunbar plant in Scotland and the Cardiff Trident Park facility.

Kevin Bradshaw, chief executive of Viridor, said: “Viridor stands ready to invest in developing world-leading carbon capture technology. This will support our company and sector to decarbonise, as we have committed to do. But first of a kind technology projects on this scale require genuine partnership between the public and private sectors. Government policy support for waste management facilities to participate in industrial carbon capture schemes will be vital for us to keep progressing our plans.”

Tara Davies, partner and co-head of KKR, which owns Viridor, said: “We are hugely excited that Viridor are playing their part to help deliver a low-carbon future in the UK. Our investment in Viridor reflects KKR’s commitment to investing in critical UK infrastructure and in companies which advance solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability and climate challenges.”

Technology

EfW plants release an average of around one tonne of CO2 for every tonne of waste processed (source: Eunomia and Zero Waste Europe)

Viridor has partnered with CCUS specialist Aker Carbon Capture for the delivery of five modular plants.

The company says this would reduce fossil fuel emissions by 90% and “ensure Viridor becomes the UK’s first net zero waste company by 2030, a decade earlier than planned”.

Minister for investment Gerry Grimstone said: “Viridor’s investment in cutting-edge decarbonisation technology will support the UK’s commitment to green growth and ambitious net zero targets. Investments like this will be vital to help reduce emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures whilst driving jobs, growth and levelling up across the country. The Global Investment Summit will demonstrate how we can use investment to nurture technological developments and propel our economy towards a more prosperous, greener future.”

Viridor says the technology can be rolled out within 15 months of obtaining planning approval.

Dispute

The investment comes in the same month as a dispute over the cost of CCUS at EfW plants (see letsrecycle.com story). In a report published on 4 October, Zero Waste Europe describes CCS at EfW plants as “an expensive distraction to a circular economy”.

However, on 5 October, a report published by consultancy Eunomia and commissioned by Viridor claims that using CCUS technology on EfW facilities could be “some of the cheapest” of any industrial sector.

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