Hot commissioning of Wheelabrator’s Kemsley energy from waste facility in Kent is underway using waste supplied by Suez recycling and recovery UK.
And, Suez is understood to have won a major ongoing contract to supply the plant with waste as a feedstock. The award is expected to give Suez the opportunity to potentially almost cease the export of refuse derived fuel (RDF) from the UK and so allow it to handle all waste domestically, apart from Scotland.
Last year Suez sent just under 300,000 tonnes of waste abroad for energy recovery as RDF. However, its exports in the first quarter of this year were down by about 25% at approx. 72,000 tonnes compared to 106,000 tonnes in 2019 (overall RDF exports in this period in England were down around 30%).
Besides generating 44MW (net) of renewable baseload energy electricity, Wheelabrator Kemsley is also a notable project because of the heat usage which will be by the neighbouring DS Smith Kemsley paper mill.
Wheelabrator Kemsley explains that the facility consists of two 35 tonnes per hour lines and that it will annually process up to 550,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste. The site will generate 180GWh of heat which will be used to supply steam to the paper mill which has been operating at Kemsley since 1924.
Construction of the Kemsley energy from waste plant started in 2016 and is on target for the handing over from the commissioning stage to commercial operations this summer.
Wheelabrator has rapidly developed its offering in the UK with the Kemsley plant part of its portfolio and it is thought to now be the fourth largest operator. The business is headquartered in the US where most of its facilities are on the east coast. Apart from Kemsley its projects in the UK include two facilities at its giant Ferrybridge EfW site which is run in partnership with SSE. With SSE, Wheelabrator is also planning the development of a facility at Skelton Grange, Leeds.
Suez is also increasing its own energy from waste capacity in the UK.
Among its projects are: a 55,000 tonnes gasification plant in Surrey due to be operational this year; the expansion of the Suffolk EfW plant by 26,000 tonnes; approval for a 500,000 tonne facility in Blackburn; a new plant is to be operational in 2022 at Billingham for 240,000 tonnes of waste; and plans to increase the throughput of the Severnside facility in Gloucestershire by 100,000 tonnes. Suez’ other facilities include Teesside, Redcar, Kirklees, Isle of Man and Cornwall.
Work on the Surrey gasification plant was paused in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic but resumed again last week and commissioning tests are also to restart.