The £205 million, 26 megawatt facility is already helping to process 300,000 tonnes-a-year of residual waste a year from Oxfordshire county council and other local authorities and businesses.
The Duke was joined by Viridor chief exective and Pennon Group director, Ian McAulay, his predecessor Colin Drummond, OBE, the vice-lord Lieutenant, Mr John Harwood and councillor John Sanders, chairman of Oxfordshire county council.
The group and guests took a tour of the energy recovery facility (ERF) which produces enough electrical power for 38,000 homes every year, equivalent to more than two-thirds of Oxford, according to Viridor.
Guests also enjoyed the new ERF Education and Visitor Centre, where they met with students and teachers from Chesterton and Fritwell primary schools.
The centre includes a life-size model dinosaur called the ‘Megawattosaurus’, which is created entirely using waste materials recovered from the Household Waste Recycling Centre operated by Viridor in Ardley.
Speaking after the opening, Mr McAulay said: “The Duke showed great interest in the development of this site and it’s great to see Viridor’s latest energy recovery facility at Ardley already providing a first-class service to our local authority and business customers.
“By working in long-term partnership with our clients, we’re transforming what some see as ‘waste’ into vital renewable energy for the UK.
“Our ERFs ensure that we extract every ounce of value from what people throw away, complementing the vital recycling services provided by councils and their contractors.
“I thank everyone for their hard work in delivering this world-class project.”
Construction of the ERF began in November 2011 by a CNIM Clugston joint venture and the facility exported its first electricity to the grid in August 2014 (see letsrecycle.com story). The plant has already been awarded R1 efficiency status (an EU energy efficiency threshold), one of just a handful of facilities in the UK to have been awarded this.
The opening was welcomed by Cllr Sanders who said: “I am delighted to see the Ardley energy recovery facility formally opened today. This is an incredible achievement and a celebration of all the hard work and dedication of the many people involved.
“Oxfordshire has the best recycling and composting rate of any county council in the country – last year we delivered a rate of over 61%. This modern and well run energy recovery facility will treat almost all the waste left after recycling and composting and we will send very little waste direct to landfill. Diverting waste away from landfill and generating valuable electricity brings real environmental benefits to the people of Oxfordshire and nationally.
“We look forward to Viridor and Oxfordshire county council working in partnership over the next 25 years to provide an excellent waste treatment service for Oxfordshire and to Viridor being a good neighbour to local residents.”