EWB Insight report: September 2018

This month: More problems for waste gasification plants, DG Environment gives "early warning reports" to 14 member states, UK makes it tougher for wood-fired builds and a full facilities round up for the month

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UK’s gasification sector back in the spotlight

The UK waste sector’s struggles to produce a fully operational commercial-scale waste gasification plant have been thrust back into the spotlight.

A gasification plant in Derby, which is jointly developed by Renewi and Interserve, has been given three months to become fully operational to avoid local authorities Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council pulling the plug on the project.

ENDS understands the council’s have a clause in the contract allowing them to terminate the contract with the joint venture known as Resource Recovery Solutions’ (RRS). While dropping the deal is unlikely, issues with smells and noise at the site, also reported this month, have also heaped political pressure on the authorities behind the plant.

Also this month, Fortum Carlisle and Kingmoor Park Properties asked Carlisle City Council to consider several changes to the fully consented plant planned for Kingmoor Park.

The planned £80m (€91m) facility was being developed by a joint venture of UK-based Verus Energy, Finnish utility firm Fortum and Carlisle-based landowner Kingmoor Park, when the plant originally won planning consent in October 2016.

However, last year the facility missed out on securing subsidies through the government’s contracts for difference (CfD) scheme and the developers now plan to drop the use of gasification technology for a moving grate system.

Last year waste management firm Amey got the green light to switch its Isle of Wight-based EfW plant’s technology from gasification to grate. While fellow waste firm Viridor is still working on its delayed Glasgow EfW plant, which will still use gasification.

The sectors most high-profile failure was back in 2016, when US-based Air Products was developing the Tees Valley 1 (TV1) and Tees Valley 2 (TV2) gasification facilities. Both facilities had planned electrical capacities of 50MW and were under development in Billingham, to the north of Middlesbrough.

However, two years ago work on both of these plants was halted, with ENDS learning that tests had been "blowing big holes" in the ceramic lining of the gasifier stack on TV1.

Policy Update

A senior figure at the European Commission’s DG Environment, William Neale, revealed 14 member states will receive "early warning reports" concerning their compliance with waste legislation on 24 September. The states are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Neale said the infringement process was "a blunt instrument", which has led to the approach he hoped would be the new way the Commision would tackle compliance. He also explained the countries were those having the "greatest difficulties" meeting targets under the Waste Framework Directive.

A call by environmental NGOs and trade bodies for the European Parliament’s regional development committee to exclude facilities treating residual waste from cohesion funding has been criticised. In a letter to the REGI committee, sent yesterday, the NGOs wrote that article 6 of the proposed new post-2020 cohesion funding was "very important" because it would limit investment of EU funds for certain waste management systems. EfW trade body CEWEP said cohesion funds should follow an "integrated approach and respect the waste hierarchy". It also said treatment capacity was needed for residual waste, which cannot be recycled in a "sustainable way".

The EU’s latest Biofuels Barometer showed production of all biofuels leapt 9.2% to reach 15.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent across the block in 2017. The data also shows biofuel consumption could be on "track to double" by 2030, with growth in conventional and advanced bioethanol and biodiesel consumption the main drivers. Consumption of all the major biofuel categories increased in 2017, but the strongest increase was experienced by biodiesel, followed by bioethanol.

The European Commission should not introduce a hierarchy for the use of biomass products and by-products in its final guidance on applying circular economy principles to biomass, a group of bioenergy and forestry stakeholders have said. The call was made in a joint statement from trade associations including Bioenergy Europe, the European State Forest Association (Eustafor) and the Union of European Foresters, among others. According to the associations, these market distortions may result in sub-optimal value cycles and would be detrimental to some forestry sub-sectors.

A €12.5m Spanish scheme to support the production of biomass-based fuel has been approved by the European Commission under EU state aid rules. The Commision backed the scheme, which sources biomass and agricultural residues from the south-western Spanish region of Extremadura.

Germany’s biomass-to-energy auction received a "significant increase" in interest this year, but bids still failed to meet the support tendered. In total, 79 bids from biogas and biomass plants led to an overall bid volume of 76.5MW of support this year. Of the bids, 13 were for new facilities and 66 were from existing plants. In the first round, winners of which were revealed last September, only 27.5MW out of a potential 122MW of capacity was awarded, with just 24 bidders sharing potential financial support.

UK biogas trade body ADBA again called for the UK to "commit to action" on food waste recycling in England. It said six million tonnes of food waste per year was being "lost" to incineration or landfill, while recovering energy and nutrients from inedible food waste "has huge environmental and economic benefits". ADBA also said the UK has less than two years to bring into law the EU’s circular economy package, which requires EU Member States to introduce separate collections for biowaste by December 2023.

Poland’s energy regulatory office URE announced this year’s first renewable power subsidy auction will take place in October. In a statement on Friday, the URE said the auctions would be held online on 17, 18, 19, 24 and 25 October. Potential bidders can take part if they have received confirmation that they are signed up to the bidding process before the auction starts, the URE said. EfW, biogas and biomass-fired projects can apply.

The UK plans to introduce a lower greenhouse gas (GHG) threshold for biomass processing plants set for commissioning between 2021/22 and 2025/26 in future contract for difference auctions. The move will in effect ban the use of imported biomass feedstock, by adding a threshold of 29kg CO2e/MWh for new biomass combined heat and power plants. The government also said on the subject of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage that it was already looking at "removing barriers and strengthening incentives".

The UK has given the country’s waste wood sector 12 months to develop a code of practice. A regulatory position statement was issued last week covering the classification of waste wood from mixed waste wood sources until the end of September next year. By the end of this period, the sector must deliver a code of practice that meets the legal requirements to assess and classify waste wood as approved by the Environment Agency.

Northern Ireland’s second largest political party, Sinn Féin, called for the closure of the region’s controversial Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in a move likely to continue a row with its political rivals. Sinn Féin’s economy spokesperson, Conor Murphy, attacked the scheme in a statement issued by the party yesterday, after it submitted a response to a consultation on the future of the scheme, which launched in June.

Market Update

EfW trade association the CEWEP’s annual industry report found the sector in the best mood since the report was first published in 2012. The Industry Barometer Waste-to-Energy 2018 found 70% of EfW plant operators said business in the sector was good with only 1% replying it was poor and a further 27% saying it was satisfactory. Suppliers to the sector were slightly less upbeat with 47% saying the sector was good, while 13% said it was poor and 40% reported it as satisfactory.

The SELCHP EfW plant issued a warning to suppliers about a potential scam. The plant, in Lewisham, south London, said it was issuing the fraud alert after a "number of contacts" were made to suppliers claiming to be from the plant. Emails using addresses ending selchp.org and selchp.net have been sent to suppliers requesting orders for "industrial products", the Veolia-owned plant said in a statement.  

UK-based EfW business Viridor’s parent company Pennon issued a positive trading update for its waste management arm. The update said Viridor was "on track for growth" with operations set to "ramp up" at its three latest EfW plants in Glasgow, Dunbar and Beddington over the next 18 months. Viridor "remains confident" in the UK residual waste sector, with "further capacity essential" to meet longer term demand. Work on another under-construction EfW plant in Avonmouth remains on track for commissioning in 2020/21. The update also said Viridor has seen "some improvement" in recyclate pricing since the end of last financial year, in particular for paper. Overall, recycling performance for the half year and full year remain in line with "expectations".

RDF exporter Geminor confirmed it has signed a deal with the government of Guernsey to export about 20,000 tonnes of waste from the island annually. RDF sourced from Guernsey would be sent to Jönköping Energi’s cogeneration facility in Torsvik, Sweden. The three-year contract, now expected to start in October, was originally awarded to Geminor in 2016 – but a contract was not signed at that point. The deal also contains an option for a further two-year extension.

Ireland-based gasification technology supplier Eqtec signed a memorandum of understanding with US-based Phoenix Biomass Energy for two gasification plants. The two facilities would have capacities of 2MWe and 3MWe respectively and would cost about €10m to build. Financial close is expected in the final quarter of this year with the purchase contracts signed "shortly thereafter".

France-based utility company EDF sold two biomass-fired plants to US-based investment fund Atlantic Power. The plants, both of which are located in South Carolina and each have a capacity of 20MWe, were sold for a total €11m.

Israel-based Ellomay Capital revealed to two Dutch biogas plants it bought a controlling stake in have boosted its half year profits. A financial statement, covering the first six months of this year, showed revenues jumped to about €8.2m compared to about €6.8m for the same period last year. The increase "reflects the commencement of operations" at the Groen Gas Goor and Groen Gas Oude-Tonge biogas plants. Both of which were developing plans with biomethane production capacity of about 375m3/h in Goor and 475m3/h in Oude Tonge.

Sweden-based utility company Solör Bioenergi took full control of a biomass-fired plant in Vårgårda four years after buying a stake in the facility. Solör acquired Borgstena Energi's share in Vårgårda Ångfabrik, giving it 100% ownership of the company’s main asset – the biomass-fired heating plant. Solör, which did not disclose any financial terms from the deal, had jointly owned the plant with Borgstena Energi after it took over former owner Rindi Energi. Borgstena and Rindi established the plant, which can produce 40GWh a year of steam, in 1997 until Solör Bioenergi took over a share of the plant in 2014.

Facilities Update

An explosion at Indaver’s Antwerp-based EfW plant left one worker dead and four others in hospital this month. It was the second major incident in two years – in 2016 there was an explosion and a fire at the site, but on this occasion no one was hurt. The reason for the explosion is currently "unknown", but took place as waste was being unloaded at the site.

Denmark-based Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) said the biomass-fired Kent Renewable Energy plant was now operational, just 25 months after financial close and two months ahead of schedule, to specification and within budget. The cogeneration plant has been built at the Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent, and has a capacity of 27MW. The plant is supported by the ROC and RHI subsidies for its power and heat respectively. Danish investment fund CI II owns the plant along with BWSC and biomass-plant developer Estover Energy.

EfW plant developer Amey faces having to appeal a refusal of planning consent if it wants to continue developing its fourth facility. Plans for the company’s proposed Waterbeach EfW plant were turned down by Cambridgeshire County Council’s planning committee. Amey told ENDS it would take "time to consider" its next steps following the decision, which went against the authority’s officers who had recommended approving the EfW plant. The plant would have a capacity of 24.4MWe.

France-based Suez confirmed it will build a new EfW plant in the UK at Haverton Hill, near Billingham. Suez said the facility would be capable of processing 200,000t/yr waste per year and would have a capacity of 23MWe. The facility, which will be a third structure on the Haverton Hill site where Suez already operates two EfW plants, was granted planning consent in 2014.

Switzerland-based Clariant started work on building its first €100m bioethanol-producing plant in Romania. The facility will be capable of processing about 250,000t/yr of wheat and other cereal straw into 50,000t/yr cellulosic bioethanol. The facility will also be the the first large-scale commercial plant to use the company’s Sunliquid system to produce bioethanol from agricultural residues.The first batch of bioethanol to leave the site in 2020.

A UK planning application by Westfield Energy Recovery has been submitted for an EfW plant as part of a restoration and regeneration project of an opencast mine. The Westfield Restoration and Regeneration Project had already received planning permission in principle from Fife Council on 15 August, but this was subject to 30 planning conditions and obligations. The EfW plant will process up 200,000t/yr and have an electrical capacity of 23.7MWe.

UK-based Tees Eco Energy’s EfW plant in Billingham secured an environmental permit. The facility will process up to 375,000t/yr of refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The plant has a planned electrical capacity of 34MWe. Tees Eco Energy has previously said the plant is the first of three that it plans for the same location. The plant is planned for the site of a former 200MWe coal fired power station, within the Billingham Reach Industrial Estate.

Finland-based KPA Unicon has secured a contract to build a 45MWth biomass-fired plant in Pomacle, France. KPA said the deal with France-based Dalkia to deliver a Unicon Renefluid bubbling fluidized bed boiler. The power plant will supply a Européenne de Biomasse black pellet manufacturing facility with electricity, steam and hot water once operational in 2020.

KPA Unicon also said it begun commissioning and test runs of a biomass-fired plant this week at Keitele Timber’s sawmill in Alajärvi, Finland. Work on the 12MWth system which will dry wood started in April. The plant will use biomass such as bark, sawdust, woodchips and peat, according to KPA.

KPA Unicon further said it was on target to complete work this autumn on the Grubišno Polje-based biomass plant in Croatia. The facility, which will have a capacity of 5MWe, will produce power for a nearby wood processing plant with any excess sent to the grid. Full commissioning tests are expected to follow and the plant is due to open in October.

UK-based multifuel-fired FM1 took its two-millionth tonne of waste, the BDR Waste Partnership confirmed in September. BDR, which is one of several suppliers to the plant, said the target tonnage came in the form of RDF supplied by the Renewi-owned waste treatment facility at Manvers. FM1 opened in August 2015 and has a capacity of 70MWe and processes up to 570,000t/r of RDF and waste wood.

Dutch utility company Nuon Energy is moving forward with its plans to develop a large scale biomass-fired 120MWth plant in Diemen. The company moved to the qualification stage for bidders. Nuon has previously said the facility is planned to supply baseload heat production through the firing of either woodchips or pellets, in one or two boilers. The new notice does not clarify the amount of boilers the plant will use, but says the contract will be split into one for the civils work and one for the boiler itself.

Finland-based utility company Vantaan Energia has begun expanding the waste-processing capacity of its four-year-old EfW plant. The increase to the Långmossebergen-based plant would increase its capacity from 374,000t/yr to 450,000t/yr. According to the company, the plant, which opened in September 2014, needs more waste as "increased" waste sorting is "decreasing" the calorific value of its current feedstock.

Denmark-based Linka is overhauling Ølgod Fjernvarme’s 2MW biomass-fired heating plant, the company said in a statement. The plant opened 2013 but has only processed wood pellets. However, once the work is completed, by the end of this year, the plant will also be able to process woodchips and switch between the two feedstocks as needed, according to Linka.

Switzerland-based IWB said its Basel biomass-fired plant had reduced CO2 emissions by "about 330,000" tonnes over the past decade. The plant, which went into service in 2008, has reduced CO2 emissions compared with fossil fuel power. IWB further said its second Basel-based biomass-fired plant was on schedule to be operational this autumn.

Denmark-based Sindal Varmeforsyning’s biomass-fired cogeneration plant is now fully operational. The plant, which started construction in May last year, and opened this month, according to constructors Dall Energy. The DKK11.9m (€1.61m) development, has capacities of 5MWth and 0.8MWe and processes wood, garden and park waste.

Scotland-based Angus Council approved a plan to expand the Petterden Den landfill to take IBA from an under-construction EfW plant. The council gave the go-ahead yesterday to the move by DJ Laing Homes to take the IBA from the MVV Environment Services Baldovie EfW plant in Dundee. The 110,000t/yr EfW plant, which started construction this summer, is expected to be operational in 2020. MVV has previously said the plant will have capacities of 9MWe and 17MWth.

Austria-based Kelag Energie & Wärme has commissioned a 16-kilometre district heating network connected to an EfW plant. Kelag said the build, which took 15 months, will link the Arnoldstein and Villach areas and supply around 100,000MWh per year. The EfW plant, owned by Kärntner Restmüllverwertungs and located in Arnoldstein, processes up to 80,000t/yr of waste and has a capacity of 7MWe.

Anaerobic digestion plant builder and operator EnviTec Biogas revealed a new deal that could see it build up to 20 new facilities in China. The plants would be developed over a five-year period and would build on the six facilities it was already developing in China. EnviTec said it has signed a deal with a China-based company for the plants, but did not name the company or give any financial details.

And finally…

French rocket firm ArianeGroup’s move to biomass has taken off with the installation of a new biomass-fired boiler at its base in Issy-les-Moulineaux. The 1.6MWth system is being installed by engineering firm Weiss and is due to start operating by the end of this year.

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