EWB Insight report: April 2018

This month: WI Bref talks near finishing line, the EU's circular economy package progresses, new owners for Clearfleau and a full biogas, biomass and EfW facilities round up

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WI Bref talks near finishing line

The month of April saw the final review meeting as work continues to wrap up the new Waste Incineration (WI) BREF in Seville, Spain.

Talks, which took place between April 23 and 27, were controversial with the energy-from-waste sector finding itself at loggerheads with environmentalists.

Before the talks had even kicked off, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), which claims to be Europe’s "largest network of environmental citizens' organisations", claimed the new BREF could still leave key environmental protections "weakened".

The EU itself and EfW trade associations CEWEP and ESWET all dismissed EEB’s report, which claimed the plan for the new BREF "fell short" of what environmentalists had hoped to achieve.  

The report led to further divisions between the EfW sector and environmentalist groups with ESWET president, Edmund Fleck, suggesting in a leaked email that participants in the BREF talks should "isolate" environmental campaigners and "unilaterally oppose" anything they say.

Fleck later told ENDS his comments had been a "spontaneous and emotional" response to the EEB report to close colleagues and not made as ESWET president.

The final draft should be ready by November 2018 with a further meeting set for early 2019.

Policy Update 

The European Parliament formally endorsed the Circular Economy Package setting legally binding targets for recycling and cutting landfilling of municipal waste. However, member states landfilling more than 60% of municipal waste have a further five years until 2040 to achieve the target, prompting criticism from energy-from-waste body CEWEP. The package also states that by 2024 biodegradable waste will also have to be either collected separately or recycled at home through composting, a move long seen as a boost to biogas plant operators.

Sweden’s spring budget confirmed a SEK270m (€25.9m) cash injection to boost the country’s production of domestic biogas. Trade association Waste Sweden, while welcoming the move, said future funding was "uncertain" even as early as 2019.

Biomethane will be an effective measure in contributing to key European renewable energy supply targets and alleviating greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector, according to the International Energy Agency. It said biomethane produced from anaerobic digestion and gasification will also help the EU to substitute natural gas.  

In the UK, a framework for distributing £320m (€368.6m) through grants and loans to develop heat networks in England and Wales has been revealed by the government. The Heat Networks Investment Project was first announced by the government in the 2015. Public, private and third sector organisations are eligible to access the fund which will launch in autumn, the government said in a statement, issued yesterday. Technologies including EfW, urban recovered heat – such as from the London Underground – and industrial waste heat are among those the government says qualify for the funds.

A scathing report by Norway’s Auditor General says the country has failed to expand its bioenergy sector, mainly due to the way policy is spread across ministries. The report states the "only" market to have grown was the use of liquid biofuels, which are mainly imported and used in transport. The report states it is "critical" that ministries assess and adjust their efforts and gain an "overview of effective policies" to "clarify a common strategy".

 Denmark’s Agricultural Agency issued a DKK8.6m (€1.1m) tender for an advisory scheme to support 28 operational biogas plants. The tender explains the projects would help the plants, which process manure primarily from pigs, to cut manure storage times.

Market update 

Waste management firms Biffa and Geminor were the UK’s biggest waste exporters in the first two months of 2018, Environment Agency provisional figures show. Biffa is the lead shipper so far in 2018 with 32,311 tonnes of waste moved in January and 36,295.7 tonnes in February, totalling 68,606.7t. Geminor moved 33,959.6t in January and 31,771t in February – a total of 65,730.6t leaving it just behind Biffa. It said the January figure put Geminor 1,000t ahead of "any other British business" in that month.

UK-based biogas plant builder Clearfleau was bought by a subsidiary of Germany-based investment fund SKion. The fund’s water technology arm EnviroChemie is officially the new owner of the business after the deal was agreed for an undisclosed fee. Clearfleau has delivered a number of a biogas facilities; including a 5MWth plant for First Milk’s Aspatria creamery, a small plant for Inver House Distillers’ Balmenach distillery and has campaigned about UK government funding.

EfW trade body CEWEP released its latest interactive map of waste-processing plants, based on 2015 data, revealing a "stable" European market. The map showed only the UK making significant gains in EfW plant numbers, which rose from 32 to 37 between 2014 and 2015. 

Utility Southern Water issued a notice stating a tender will be released for maintenance and repairs to its portfolio of biogas plants, which are based across Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Construction materials supplier Breedon announced a £455m (€526.5m) takeover of the insolvent Lagan Group. Lagan, which went into administration in February, worked on Viridor’s £205m (€277m) Beddington EfW plant and helped to deliver its Trident Park facility, which opened in 2015.

Three Wales-based local authorities known as the Heads of the Valleys (HOV) waste procurement partnership signed a £9.6m (€10.9m) deal for anaerobic digestion business Agrivert to take their food waste. The municipalities of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Torfaen County Borough Council agreed a 15-year contract, which got under way this month.

The under-development Orthios Eco Park revealed it has signed a deal allowing it to move forward with plans to process waste plastic-to-product at its site in Wales. Orthios said it had completed a two-year "detailed assessment" before settling on a "proven provider" of polymer processing technology, which will allow it to process plastic into "high value products". Previously, the development has centred on plans for a biomass-fired 299MW facility in Holyhead, originally announced in 2015. However, last year the project lost the backing of the SinoFortone Group and then failed to secure support under the UK’s contract for difference scheme, although a construction start date of next spring was still stated.

The £140m (€158m) Kent Renewable Energy plant signed a 20-year deal with biomass supplier Euroforest to source 100% of its feedstock for the "next 20 years", although no financial terms were released. The feedstock will total 240,000t/yr of biomass made up from a mixture of hardwood and softwood logs, saw mill chippings and recycled wood materials. Construction work on the plant began in the summer of 2016 by Denmark-based Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC). It is planned to have capacities of 27.8MWe and up to 25MWth.

UK-based PowerHouse Group signed what it says is the company’s first deal to supply its waste-to-hydrogen technology internationally. It will work with Bucharest-based Tresoil Biofuels and several other companies, on delivering hydrogen-powered bus projects in Bulgaria and Romania.

EfW trade association CEWEP added two Lithuania-based members with Lithuania Vilniaus kogeneracine jegaine and Kauno kogeneracine jegaine signing up. Construction of the Vilnius-based plant, which is due to open next year, started in February. Plans for the facility involve a biomass boiler with capacities of 70MWe and 174MWth and a second unit fired on 160,000t/yr of waste with capacities of 18MWe and 53MWth. The Kaunas-based plant, which began construction last December, will process 200,000t/yr of waste and have capacities of 24MWe and 70MWth. It is due to open in early 2020.

Finland-based EPV Energia has taken over a large-scale biomass and peat-fired cogeneration plant for an undisclosed fee. Former owner Pohjolan Voima agreed to sell the woodchip and peat-fired facility, which has capacities of 125MWe and 100MWth. The plant has a backup coal-fired facility.

Facilities update

 The 25MWe Energy Works (Hull) EfW plant began hot commissioning, construction contractor M+W confirmed. Waste burning is under way and the plant is on track to be fully operational and processing up to 240,000t/yr later this summer. However, days before commissioning began "several members" of its workforce "decided to withdraw" their labour, citing safety concerns after a worker was sprayed with water from a loose pipe. It is understood the workers have since resumed their roles.

North Lanarkshire Bio Power had its plan to expand an under-development EfW plant turned down by North Lanarkshire Council. Plans to raise the plant’s capacity to 27MWe, increase its feedstock capacity to 204,000t/yr and to change the building’s design were all turned down. The council refused the original planning application for the plant, but consent was later granted on appeal by Scottish Ministers in 2011 and remains active.

NGO Bedfordshire Against Covanta Incinerator (BACI) secured £10,010 for a judicial review of an EfW plant’s environmental permit after a last-minute push from fundraisers. The Rookery Pit Energy Recovery Facility, which was awarded the permit in January, is consented to process 585,000t/yr and will have a capacity of 50MWe.

Biogas firm Mickram secured planning consent for its facility on appeal against a previous refusal. A planning inspector overturned West Norfolk Council’s decision to refuse consent for the biogas plant at Cross Bank Road, King’s Lynn. Dow Chemicals and KL Technologies, which are about 700 metres from the proposed site,  will be the plant’s main energy customers. A power supply agreement has not yet been concluded, but planning inspector Anne Napier stipulated that one must be in place before construction started.

Bioethanol-producer Vivergo Fuels reopened its mothballed £350m (€395.8m) facility in Hull in the hope business "conditions will improve" for the plant. The decision was made as a result of revisions to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (RTFO) Order 2007, which came into force this month. Under the revised RFTO, the use of renewable fuels in transport will rise from 4.75% to a target of 9.75% by 2020. The revision was announced in September last year, three months before Vivergo said it would mothball its bioethanol plant last December.

A report prepared for Cardiff City Council outlined how the city could source heat from Viridor’s £223m (€256m), 30MWe Trident Park EfW plant. The Cardiff Heat Network "has been estimated" at £26.2m (€30.2m) with a first phase expected to cost £14.4m (€16.6m). Initial costs include connection to the EfW plant, the backup natural gas-fired energy centre, oversized/future-proofed distribution pipes and the heat exchangers required in each connected building. The report also assumes a 40-year-life span for the network.

Wales-based municipality Monmouthshire County Council turned down a planning application for a pilot-scale waste gasification facility by DPS Process Solutions in Caldicot. The facility’s developer entered the insolvency process in February and the the local authority dismissed the application, for a 20,000t/yr facility, without taking it to a formal planning hearing.

The European Investment Bank agreed to loan Spanish biomass plant developer Greenalia €60m to part fund its new 50MWe facility in Curtis-Teixeiro. Overall, the plant is a €113m investment and is planned to open in April 2020. Greenalia also said it had declined an offer to buy the right to develop the plant made by rival firm Ence.

Ence itself announced a €15m contract with Cadiz-based GBS to supply the biomass-fired boiler for an under-construction 40MWe power plant in Huelva. The €80m plant will use feedstock sourced from forestry and farming industries and is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2019.

Municipality Métropole de Lyon launched a €90m tender to overhaul its Rillieux-la-Pape EfW plant, known as Unité de Traitement et de Valorisation Energétique (UTVE). The work initially covers designing and carrying out "modernisation" aimed at improving the performance of the plant and also covers the "operation, maintenance and upkeep" of it.

Olleco revealed its Liverpool-based biodiesel site achieved the ISO 14001 accreditation from UCAS accredited body, BSI. Waste from the production of biofuel at the site is used to power a small-scale biogas plant on-site, which Olleco says is the largest UK site solely dedicated to producing biodiesel from used cooking oil.

Members of UK-based trade unions including Unite staged another protest in part of an ongoing action over "pay, conditions and safety". The protest, which took place outside the Parc Adfer EfW build site, targeted France-based contractor CNIM, which has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Once operational next year, the plant is expected to process 200,000t/yr of waste sourced from five Welsh municipalities and have a capacity of 14.4MWe. 

Finland-based HSY published a prior information notice relating to an upcoming project on the "processing and utilisation" of municipal IBA sourced from an EfW plant. Along with fellow business Rosk’n Roll, the firm is responsible for processing IBA from Vantaan Energia’s Vantaa EfW plant, which opened in 2014. It produces about 72,000t/yr of IBA, with about 65,000t/yr left once ferrous and non-ferrous metals are removed and reused. HSY wants to hear about solutions for this 65,000t/yr, which can "still be in development", but must be workable within two years of the procurement starting.

China-based DP CleanTech and France’s EDF signed a contract to develop a biomass-fired plant in the former’s home country. The project, based in Lingbao City, sees EDF develop the plant under a 30-year local government-backed contract. When completed the plant will use agricultural and forestry wastes such as apple branches, corn straw and mushroom leftovers to power the 130t/h facility. The plant is expected to open in early 2019 and will supply heat and power to 25,000 homes, although no precise figures or financial terms were revealed.

Switzerland-based Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) says it will build and operate a Kompogas biomethane-producing plant in Sweden for the municipality of Jönköping. It will be HZI’s second Kompogas plant in the Scandinavia country. It will process 40,000t/yr of organic waste in a dry fermentation process to produce 35GWh of biogas to be turned into fuels for buses as well as high-quality compost.

Poland-based PGE GiEK says work on its Rzeszów EfW plant has "entered the final stage" as it prepares to open later this year. Talks over gate fees are ongoing with the municipality, but the PLN285m (€66m) plant is due to process about 100,000t/yr of waste on one line and will have capacities of 5.4MWth and 4.8MWe in cogeneration mode or 7.87MWe when producing only electricity.

The Templeborough Biomass Power Plant completed steam blowing this month as it heads towards being operational this summer. The developers told ENDS earlier this year that the facility was on course to open in June. When up and running it will use about 260,000t/yr of waste wood, which will require 40 lorry loads of woodchips everyday to reach the plant’s capacity of 41MWe.

Netherlands-based Agro Giethoorn Energie is trying to use crowdfunding to raise €1.2m to refinance its two biogas plants in Giethoorn and Baarlo.The funds would pay off Ludan Energy Overseas-Finance, which own 40% of the plants having invested in their development.

The majority biomass-fired Drax power station will be coal free by 2025 or "possibly" before that. Drax said this month it was "exploring options" for converting its remaining coal units to biomass and natural gas. Earlier this year Drax confirmed it would convert a fourth unit to biomass, it has two remaining units still processing coal.

France-based Veolia has turned to retired workers to fill roles at Hungary’s largest biomass-fired plant after revealing difficulties finding certain experienced staff. The company has had problems filling roles at the Pécs Power Station and needed experienced electricians and workers with skills in general operations and rail to deliver the station’s feedstock.

Urbaser Balfour Beatty reported "increased activity" at the Javelin Park EfW plant’s construction site as process equipment is installed. The plant’s combustion grate is now in place and preparations are under way to install boiler panels. IBA handling and conveying systems are also being installed in the basement beneath the grate.  Off-site, installation of the electricity grid connection cable is "nearing completion". The 14.5MWe facility is due take 190,000t/yr of waste and is planned to open in 2019.

Austria-based BDI secured a contract to expand a pilot-scale phosphorus recovery plant from two water utilities in Germany. The facility will recover 6,500t/yr of pure phosphorus from wastewater. No financial terms were disclosed. BDI’s contract involves scaling up the facility and preparing various documents for the approval and design of the expanded plant, which by 2020 aims to process 20,000t/yr of sewer sludge. 

Poland-based MKL BAU secured a contract to build a new block for Sweden-based utility Mälarenergi in Västerås. MKL BAU told ENDS it will deliver materials and construct the 152MW Block 7 of the power plant, with work covering the buildings housing the boiler, electrical equipment and turbine as well as flue gas treatment line. MKL BAU’s construction work is due to start in July and finish 12 months later with the facility expected to open by 2020.

The contract to build Belgium’s first biomethane producing plant was worth between €755,100 and €1m, according to a contract award notice. Netherlands-based Bright Biomethane said it won the order from IOK Afvalbeheer, a waste management business owned by several municipalities in northern Belgium.The notice also reveals three other unnamed businesses were in the running to supply the biogas upgrading equipment.

UK-based Ellgia signed a deal to supply Ferrybridge Multifuel Energy (FM1) with RDF processed as its Scunthorpe depot. The statement does not give any financial aspects of the contract or amounts of RDF involved. FM1, which became fully operational in August 2015, processes waste wood as well as RDF and has a capacity of 70MWe.

The Spanish municipality of Montcada i Reixac launched a legal challenge against the environmental authorisation of a cement plant that processes waste. The appeal to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) is against the renewal of LafargeHolcim’s  environmental authorisation to make cement in the region. The plant has processed waste since 2009 and has operated since 1917.

Denmark-based utility Lemvig Varmeværk confirmed a contract is in place for AEA to supply a new biogas engine to its Herning-based anaerobic digestion facility, but did not disclose any of the deal’s financial aspects. The new biogas engine is expected to start operating in mid-December.

Netherlands-based Slibverwerking Noord-Brabant commissioned a small-scale R&D facility that can use gasification technology to process sewage sludge and began testing it in April. The test facility is being developed at a wastewater treatment plant in Dinther and will process different quantities of sludge over the coming year.

And finally…

Sweden-based utility Göteborg Energi’s innovative and fully operational wood-gasification GoBiGas plant has been "terminated". No buyer or new funding for the 20MWe facility could be found so it will now be mothballed, meaning it could be resurrected as some point in the future.

The plant was opened in March 2014, but after a promising start where its owners said the facility could end Gothenburg’s use of natural gas, the project ran into financial difficulties. The plant reached full-scale operations in 2016, but plans for a second stage to ramp up capacity to 80-100MWe had already been shelved by then.

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