8 July 2019 by Will Date

AEB downtime takes capacity out of RDF market

EXCLUSIVE: Four of the six combustion lines at Amsterdam’s AEB energy from waste plant are to be temporarily taken out of service, as works take place to improve safety at the plant.

The facility which was commissioned in 1993, is one of the largest in the Netherlands, and is a major off-taker of residual waste, in the form of refuse derived fuel (RDF), from the UK.

A six-month programme of works is taking place at the AEB Amsterdam energy from waste facility

Improvements are taking place as part of a six-month programme of works at the facility which will have a knock-on effect on the movement of RDF from the UK. Around 20% of the plant’s capacity – roughly 250,000 tonnes – was fulfilled by imports of material from the UK in 2018.

A spokesman for the company confirmed that the facility is currently not taking in any waste from the UK as a result of the downtime.

Six lines operate across two incineration facilities at AEB’s complex in the North West of the Dutch capital, with a combined capacity to process around 1.4 million tonnes of waste each year.

Improvement measures were announced on Friday (5 July), in a move that AEB – Afval Energie Bedrijf – said would ‘safeguard the safety of its staff’.

Two lines will remain in operation during the initial phase of the programme, with AEB aiming to catch up on ‘overdue maintenance’ and to improve ‘processes, working methods and culture’ at the site.

Once the initial four lines have come back into operation, the remaining two lines will then also be subject to a reduced capacity while works take place.

Consequences

In its statement, the company said: “AEB will still be able to fulfil its public service duties – processing the household waste of Amsterdam and the surrounding region – while the programme of measures is being implemented. The supply of heating will also be guaranteed during this period. Waste separation at the AEB materials recovery facility will carry on as usual.

“AEB is aware that this new approach will have consequences for its partners and stakeholders and regrets having to introduce these drastic measures. AEB will continue to hold constructive talks with its partners and stakeholders on how to minimise the effects of the partial closure.”

AEB said in its statement that once the six-month programme has been completed, the site will resume full operations, and will continue “playing its full role, together with its partners, in the energy transition and the circular economy.”

Waste tax

The news comes amid concerns over the long-term future of RDF exports to the Netherlands due to a proposal to implement a tax on imported waste into the country, as part of the Dutch government’s efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions (see letsrecycle.com story).

It is thought that a tax is likely to add around €32 per tonne to the gate fees at the energy from waste plants in the Netherlands and could come into effect as early as January 2020.

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