Viridor strikes deal to acquire Tilbury Docks EfW rights

EXCLUSIVE: Viridor has agreed to acquire Thameside Energy Recovery Facility Ltd, the company which owns the rights to develop and construct a 350,000 tonne energy from waste (EfW) plant in Tilbury Docks, East London, from Irish utility firm ESB.

An artist's impression of what the Tilbury Docks EfW plant could look like

The deal means Viridor now has a stake in three EfW plants serving London, with Beddington in South London, Lakeside in Slough serving West London and now the Tilbury EfW plant for the East.

The agreement for an undisclosed sum was revealed today (21 September) and marks Viridor’s first acquisition since becoming an “independent company” in 2020, when it was itself acquired by investment fund KKR.

Viridor said it would now aim for the Tilbury Docks plant to be commercially operational by 2026, when it would generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 93,000 British households.

Kevin Bradshaw, Viridor’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to announce that today, we have entered into an agreement to purchase the rights to develop, construct and operate the new EfW located on Tilbury Docks in east London.”

Project

ESB has developed the project since 2017, having taken it from concept to a fully consented project, “adding significant value in the process.”

We have entered into an agreement to purchase the rights to develop, construct and operate the new EfW

  • Kevin Bradshaw, Viridor’s chief executive

The transaction marks ESB’s exit from the UK biomass and EfW sectors, following a “strategic review” of its investment portfolio.

ESB said it “congratulates Viridor on their successful acquisition and acknowledges with thanks the assistance received from key stakeholders Thurrock Council, the Port of Tilbury and Tilbury Green Power Ltd in developing the project to this stage.”

Tilbury

The Tilbury Docks EfW plant sits adjacent to an operational biomass plant which processes around 270,000 tonnes per year of waste wood, with a 300,000-tonne capacity. This is owned by Tilbury Green Power Ltd, which has loose links to Viridor.

The site sits adjacent to the Tilbury biomass plant (picture: Tilbury Green Power Limited 2016)

The owners of Tilbury Greenpower are Portugal’s biomass specialist Greenvolt (51%) and investment fund and developer Equitix (49%). Recently, Equitix acquired a 20% stake of Viridor Energy from KKR.

Tilbury Green Power Ltd was first granted planning permission in 2009 to build a waste wood biomass plant alongside a residual waste EfW plant at Tilbury Docks, with a combined capacity of 650,000 tonnes.

The biomass plant became operational in April 2018 and processes around 270,000 tonnes per year of waste wood, with a 300,000-tonne capacity.

Since 2009, though, the EfW plant has been on hold. Viridor now own the rights to the plant and have pledged to have build and operate it by 2026.

The facility will be the 11th energy recovery plant in Viridor’s portfolio and comes as the company continues its focus on “growing the core areas of its business: energy recovery and polymers reprocessing”.

Area

Competition is fierce in the battle to build waste processing infrastructure in the South East of England.

In East London and beyond, Cory has permission for a second EfW facility in Belvedere, with a capacity of 655,000 tonnes. Indaver recently opened an information cabin at its proposed EfW plant in Rivenhall, Essex. The 595,000-tonne-capacity facility has an operational date of 2025.

All the plants are seen as potential sources for waste from Essex county council and the East London Waste Authority.

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