1 April 2020 by James Langley

Wheelabrator plans West Midlands EfW

UK investment and asset management company Low Carbon has announced plans to build a 395,000 tonnes per year capacity energy from waste (EfW) plant in the West Midlands. 

While the Kelvin Energy Recovery Facility in West Bromwich is to be developed and constructed in partnership with Verus Energy Limited and Wheelabrator Technologies, once financial close has been achieved the facility is to be owned and operated by the latter company alone.

An artist’s impression of the facility, which is to be owned by Wheelabrator once financial close has been achieved

Low Carbon expects to reach financial close by the end of 2020 and it is hoped construction will begin in early 2021.  

Low Carbon’s investment director Dominic Noel-Johnson said: “This announcement marks another significant milestone in the story of this project, and we’re delighted to now be working together towards financial close.  

“This facility will harness non-recyclable waste as a sustainable energy resource, creating local jobs and local energy supply for the West Midlands region. 

“This is one of the many exciting projects Low Carbon have in their advanced pipeline for 2020 and we look forward to expanding our renewable energy at scale in the UK and internationally.” 

Hampshire

An artist’s impression of Wheelabrator’s proposed EfW plant near Andover which never went ahead

The announcement comes a month after Wheelabrator Technologies announced it would “no longer proceed” with plans for 500,000 tonnes per year capacity EfW plant in Hampshire (see letsrecycle.com story).

The decision followed a ‘strategic review’ undertaken by the US-owned company, where Wheelabrator “decided to focus efforts on further advanced waste-to-energy projects”. 

However, during its short lifespan the project had met with considerable opposition from those who lived nearby. 

Energy

Once built it is hoped the West Bromich plant will generate up to 49.9MW of renewable baseload energy, which Low Carbon says is equivalent to the needs of around 70,000 UK homes.

“We’re delighted to now be working together towards financial close”

Daniel Noel-Johnson

The plant is to run on household and business waste. 

With a catchment area that includes greater Birmingham, Low Carbon says the proposed facility will help deal with a projected capacity shortfall of two million tonnes a year. 

Low Carbon says the cost of the plant is confidential and cannot be disclosed. 

Partnership 

Commenting on the company’s partnership with Low Carbon, Wheelabrator Technologies UK’s managing director Julia Watsford said: “We’re excited to be joining this project and look forward to working with our partners and building upon Wheelabrator’s proven track record to address the UK’s ongoing capacity shortfall in residual waste management infrastructure.

“Providing an essential service such as the safe and reliable treatment of non-recyclable waste is even more critical during a crisis”

Julia Watsford

“Providing an essential service such as the safe and reliable treatment of non-recyclable waste is even more critical during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic and we are committed to continuing operations throughout the pandemic to support the health and well-being of our communities, employees and partners.  

“We are and will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our employees, our customers and the communities in which we operate.” 

With the Ferrybridge Multifuel 2 plant in West Yorkshire becoming operational in December 2019, Wheelabrator is major player in the UK EfW market (see letsrecycle.com story). Other plants it runs include Kemsley North in Sittingbourne, Kent, and Skelton Grange in Yorkshire, less than 15 miles from Ferrybridge 1 and 2. 

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