25 November 2016 by Tom Goulding

Somerset commits waste to Viridor EfW

Viridor has confirmed it will proceed with the development of a £252 million energy recovery facility in Avonmouth south of Bristol.

The company said today (25 November) that the 33MW plant will burn up to 320,000 tonnes of waste per year, and is expected to take up to 35% of its feedstock from councils within the Somerset Waste Partnership.

An artist's impression of the Avonmouth EfW, which Viridor aims to bring online by 2020

An artist’s impression of the Avonmouth EfW, which Viridor aims to bring online by 2020

It will also serve as a merchant facility, with the remaining waste likely to be filled by commercial and industrial (C&I) waste demand, according to a report produced by Viridor’s parent company Pennon Group announcing its half-year financial results today.

The report claims that Viridor is ‘confident’ it can reach capacity for the facility, and has already secured over 50% of fuel for the plant with further contracts ‘in the pipeline’.


Planning permission for the facility was granted in 2011 and was upheld by the High Court despite a legal challenge from Bristol city council.

Plans to further develop the plant had been put on ice – but Viridor has now confirmed the procurement of engineering, design and construction partners is in ‘advanced stages’ with the build phase due to begin in early 2017.

The ‘flagship’ plant will be the twelfth energy facility to be delivered by Viridor and is expected to begin operations in 2020.


The Avonmouth plant is the latest in a number of projects resurrected in response to market trends which show the UK is headed for under-capacity in energy from waste infrastructure.

While a number of facilities have been commissioned to treat municipal waste under long-term PFI deals, there remains a growing appetite among waste operators to fill C&I waste demand.

In May, Veolia announced that it would be partnering with US-based firm Covanta to deliver its dormant 480,000 tonnes-per-year Rookery South incinerator in Bedfordshire – stoking speculation that commercial waste could be sourced from Greater London and parts of the Home Counties (see letsrecycle.com story).

An artist's impression of the Rookery South EfW plant, which is being delivered by Veolia and Covanta

An artist’s impression of the Rookery South EfW plant, which is being delivered by Veolia and Covanta

And in July, Hitachi Zosen Inova was contracted to deliver Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 (FM2) in South Yorkshire – designed to treat up to 570,000 tonnes of municipal and commercial waste derived fuel per year (see letsrecycle.com story).

The Pennon Group report states that ‘under-capacity’ in the West of England ‘matches the UK trend stretching out to 2030 and beyond’.


The report notes: “The waste arisings in the area surrounding Avonmouth ERF substantially exceed the plant’s capacity and available capacity in neighbouring facilities. In addition to the contracts already secured, a further c.800,000 tonnes is available in the area surrounding the ERF from a combination of municipal and commercial & industrial sources. Avonmouth ERF will offer a cost effective solution relative to other disposal methods and is well placed to secure the waste tonnages to fill the plant at competitive prices.”

Phil Piddington, managing director of Viridor, said: “Today’s announcement to invest £252 million in a new energy from waste plant is great news for the UK waste sector and for energy resilience.  It is an integral part of our £1.5bn UK investment programme which adds to the c. 1.5% contribution energy from waste makes to UK power generation.

“Not only will the development boost the sustainability of waste management across Bristol and the West of England, but it is another significant infrastructure investment in the region.”

He added: “We look forward to announcing our supply chain partners in the coming months and to working with all our other stakeholders to deliver a world class project.”


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