EWB Insight report: November 2019

This month: RRS insolvency details revealed, UK exports of waste to drop, Viridor takes legal action and two legal actions against UK-based EfW plant build fail

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RRS collapsed with £252.8m of secured and unsecured debt

A report by the administrator of cripplied energy-from-waste plant developer Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) has found the company had £150.3m (€176m) of debt to secured creditors.

The report, issued this week, by administrator Deloitte states it does not expect there to be “sufficient assets to pay creditors in full”.

Deloitte’s report also shows unsecured creditors were owed a total of £102.5m (€120m). Again, the report states it is “unlikely” that sufficient funds will be found to repay these debtors.

RRS, which went into administration in September, was a joint venture between waste company Renewi and construction firm Interserve. It had a deal to develop a gasification plant in Derby with two local authorities.

However, ENDS revealed earlier this year that the project overran its planned commissioning date by more than two years, leading to the deal with Derby County and Derby City Councils being scrapped.

The deal to build the plant is now in the early stages of being retendered and a contract notice is expected to be released early next month.

Policy Update

Waste exports from the UK could fall to below the 2Mt/yr mark as early as next year, according to Andusia director Steve Burton. Burton said a proposed €32-per-tonne tax on waste imports in the Netherlands, which appears increasingly likely to go ahead from January 2020, could set the UK’s export sector back to pre-2015 levels. Since 2016, the amount of UK waste exported has levelled at above 3Mt/yr, with more than a 1Mt/yr going to the Netherlands.

Legal powers proposed under the Environment Bill for the planned Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) could hinder organisations’ access to the judicial review process, Maria Lee, professor of environmental law at University College London warned. The OEP could create a tribunal system to limit options for judicial review because it might be considered "an alternative remedy that must be exhausted before [groups such as NGOs] can go for judicial review action”.

Waste trade association BVSE warned that Germany’s EfW capacity was at breaking point and called for a stop on imports. Just 8% of EfW plants had spare capacity to take waste and sector’s state was "worrying" with many plants "heavily loaded".

China’s ban on imports has not led to greater plastic sent to energy recovery in Germany, according to trade body ITAD. It said Germany’s plastic waste exports were estimated to be around 500,000 to 700,000t/yr and there was “no clear correlation” with the ban.

However, the European Environment Agency claimed falling exports of plastic waste from Europe to Asia is resulting in a "short-term" increase in energy recovery and landfilling. It also highlighted the EU’s "current lack of capacity" to increase recycling of plastics.

A new report revealed employment opportunity potential from investing in biomethane and hydrogen production facilities up to 2050. By 2050 between 600,000 and 850,000 direct jobs and 1.1 million and 1.5 million indirect roles could be created, according to the report prepared for the Gas for Climate initiative. Consultancy E4tech wrote a report for pro-bioethanol trade association ePure backing the introduction of a 20% blend, known as E20. It found that if all the EU’s bioethanol was made from crops it would not break the RED II crop cap, which was approved last year.

Biomass trade body Bioenergy Europe said the moment from which all of Europe’s power needs until the end of the year could be met by bioenergy came earlier this year. "Bioenergy Day" was officially marked on 17 November, two days earlier than last year and four days earlier than in 2017.

Market Update

Waste management Viridor has not given up on £72m (€84m) it says former construction contractor Interserve owes it and has begun arbitration proceedings. The legal action relates to Interserve’s work on Viridor’s Glasgow-based EfW plant. Interserve was removed from the project in 2016 and the plant is still not fully completed.

Irish state-owned utility firm ESB had no other option than to "regrettably" close down its West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power peat-fired facilities next year. Plans to convert the West Offaly facility to biomass were turned down in the summer.

Germany-based EfW plant equipment supplier Martin supplied its 1,000th grate order as part of an overhaul of an EfW plant in Bazenheid, Switzerland. ZAB ordered the grate for an undisclosed fee as part of work to replace its line three. The ageing EfW plant opened in 1984 and processes about 115,000t/yr.

AEB Amsterdam confirmed all six of its energy recovery lines were back in action. AEB had to accept a financial bail-out from the city of Amsterdam after problems at its two EfW plants left it only able to process a small amount of waste. The company was reported to be losing €0.5m a day.

Waste-gasification plant developer Advanced Biofuel Solutions Ltd confirmed it has taken over and restarted work on a stalled facility in Swindon, which hit financial difficulties under former owner Advanced Plasma Power. The plant is due to be brought “into service during the second half of 2020".

US-based Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises clawed back some of its losses related to delayed facility builds in the UK and Denmark from its insurance. One of the UK facilities is the yet-to-be-completed Port Clarence biomass-fired facility, which recouped £2.8m (€3.2m). B&W also received DKK37m (€4.9m) for a delayed facility in Denmark, which is thought to be Ørsted’s Skærbækværket biomass-to-coal conversion.

Investment fund Hadrian's Wall Capital confirmed an attempt to create a new UK biomass-supply business failed. The fund said it had made a provision for an aggregate loss of £18.1m (€21.1m) relating to the development of both Biomass Premium Fuels Limited (BPFL) and Biomass Optimum Fuels Limited (BOFL).

Australia-based Investment fund Macquarie Capital Principal Finance made its first move into biogas by striking a deal to take over UK-based BioCow. No financial details of the deal were disclosed, but Macquarie said it would "expand existing operations" at BioCow’s three biogas plants.

The former chief executive of EfW business Cory Riverside Energy was appointed chair of Interserve Construction Limited. Nick Pollard had been a non-executive director since June last year; he stepped down as Cory chief executive in April. Paul Gandy who joined Interserve in October will also continue as managing director for the construction division.

Majority biomass-fired Drax unveiled plans to take more control of its supply chain by saying it will self supply up to 5Mt of feedstock in a move that could also end its need for government subsidies by 2027. It also opens up the "option" to supply wood pellets directly to "Europe, North America and Asia". Currently, the power station sources 20% of its biomass through its own businesses, most of which are based in the Southern US, but it wants to increase this to 80%.

Danish utility company Rønne Vand og Varme (RVV) won a legal battle over the price it pays for heat from Bornholms Affaldsbehandling’s (BOFA) EfW plant in Rønne. The case, which related to how much RVV would pay for heat until the deal ended, started in March last year when BOFA said it would end a deal to supply heat to RVV. As a result of winning the action, RVV will pay DKK5m (€670,000) less than it would have.

Facilities Update

US-based Wheelabrator Technologies’ Parc Adfer EfW plant is on track to achieve “acceptance” on 9 December. The 200,000t/yr will also have a capacity of 14.4MWe. France-based CNIM and UK-based Clugston Construction started work on the facility in the first half of 2017 with a schedule to have the £180m (€215m) plant up and running this year.

NGO Stop The Edmonton Incinerator Now (STEIN) failed in its attempt to secure a judicial review against a planned EfW plant rebuild in north London. The plant is expected to have a capacity of 70MWe and will process up to 850,000t/yr, when it opens in 2025. It will replace the Edmonton EcoPark, one of the oldest and largest EfW facilities in the UK.

Investment fund Miller Turner gained planning consent for an EfW plant in Longridge Road, Preston. Overall, the plant is due to have a capacity of 47MWe and can process up to 395,000t/yr of residual non-hazardous household, commercial and industrial waste and RDF.

Plant developer Powerfuel Portland started the process of applying for planning consent for a new EfW facility in Dorset. It plans a 180,000t/yr plant at Portland Port and hopes to submit a planning application “in early 2020”. It will process RDF and have the capacity to export about 15MWe to the national grid or for local use.

Biffa launched an appeal to get its £5m (€5.6m) Swansea EfW plant back on track. Biffa told ENDS it has launched the appeal process and a hearing is likely to be in the Swansea area at some point next year. Swansea Council’s planning committee unanimously turned down the application in May.

Tilbury Green Power (TGP) plant applied for a new environmental permit to allow it to export feedstock manufactured on site. The comany said the 40MWe biomass-fired plant would provide “regulatory coverage for outage and associated impacts” for TGP’s feedstock supplier Stobart Energy. Currently, the plant, which is located in Tilbury Dock, Essex, can process up to 270,000t/yr of waste wood.

UK-based MVV Environment confirmed plans to develop a new EfW plant in Wisbech at a cost of "more than" £300m (€348m). The facility would process up to 500,000t/yr and have a capacity of 40MWe, while heat could also be supplied to local factories. MVV said it would make further announcements "in the near future".

Also in Cambridge, a planning inquiry started into waste management company Amey’s plans to build an EfW plant. The inquiry follows Cambridgeshire County Council’s decision to turn down the 250,000t/yr EfW plant last year, which Amey plans to build in Waterbeach. It would have a capacity of 27.4MWe with 24.4MWe being sent to the grid.

Bioenergy Infrastructure Group (BIG) revealed its Ince Biopower plant had major issues sourcing its waste-wood feedstock and is "seriously considering" importing it this winter. BIG revealed the problems at its Protos-based plant at a planning meeting of local authority Cheshire West and Chester Council when it objected to a rival development by Progressive Energy at the same site. However, the rival scheme was approved.

Aberdeen-based Agile Energy confirmed plans to build a new EfW plant. The £200m (€231.4m) EfW plant would be built in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, and would take 200,000t/yr of "business and commercial" waste and have a capacity of 20MWe. It is also planned to operate in a cogeneration mode and would have a capacity of about 80MWth. A second round of exhibitions is due to take place in "early 2020".

FCC Environment submitted a formal planning application to North Lanarkshire Council to build an EfW plant at its Greengairs landfill site in Scotland. The plant would process up to 300,000t/yr and have a capacity of 30MWe. If approved, the plant could open in mid-2023.

Danish plant operator I/S Reno-Nord issued a tender for an overhaul of its 8MWe AEG Kanis steam turbine at its Aalborg facility. The work would be a “major overhaul” of the equipment on the plant’s line three. The plant, which went into operation in 2005, can process up to 223,500t/yr of municipal solid waste.

UK-based biogas plant operator Emerald Biogas Energy Park got the go-ahead from the Environment Agency to expand its Newton Aycliffe-based plant from 102,400t/yr to 150,000t/yr. It will have an aggregated capacity of 5.9MWth.

Sweden-based Againity says it has secured a first deal in Norway to supply its organic rankine cycle (ORC) turbine technology to a power plant. Eidsiva Bioenergy ordered the equipment for its wood-fired 10MWth plant in Elverum.

Sweden-based utility company’s Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary began the tendering process for a new biomass-fired heating plant to serve a region close to the Netherlands’ capital city. Vattenfall NV is behind the Green Heat Diemen project.

UK-based animal by-product business Leo Group is investing £30m (€35.1m) in its Penrith-based facility in a move that will add a biomass-fired facility to the site. The main objective of the work is to add a biomass-fired thermal oxidiser, which will treat hazardous gases at a high temperature so they can be released into the atmosphere.

A fallen tree took down overhead power lines across the main haul road into Suez’s Cornwall-based EfW plant after the area was hit by storms. The EfW facility, near St Dennis, was only affected for about a day with waste deliveries re-routed.

A consultation opened into an environmental permit for Yorkshire-based Gascorp Plaxton planned biogas plant. The plant is planned to process up to 80,000t/yr of potato pulp and whole potatoes from a nearby food processing factory.

Viridor’s Beddington EfW facility progressed to the “final stages” of testing. An October emissions update, issued in November, stated the plant exceeded emission levels for carbon monoxide. It also stated "large parts" of the EfW plant have been handed over to Viridor. The plant, which has a capacity of 26MWe and can process 300,000t/yr of waste, exported its first electricity in January.

Viridor also said it would also invest £2m (€2.3m) in a new project to produce transport fuels from biogas at its Dunbar landfill site. Netherlands-based CarbonOrO will deliver what Viridor said was a "global first". Equipment at the site is due to begin commissioning by next summer.

Israel’s inter-ministerial Committee on Waste Treatment Facilities has published a pre-qualification procedure for an NIS1bn (€259m) contract to build an EfW plant. The plant is expected to be built within six years and would be a first-of-its-kind for Israel.

Utility company Eneris Energia’s overhauled plans to develop an EfW plant in Ruda Slaska and have cut its feedstock capacity from 180,000t/yr to 120,000t/yr. The majority of the plant’s feedstock would be waste, but it would also process about 40,000t/yr of sewage sludge. Previously, it has said the single-line plant would be able to supply about 111GWh of electricity and around 750TJ of heat annually.

France-based Suez will build a hazardous waste-fired recovery plant in China. The plant will be built at the Dongying Industrial Park in Shandong Province and will process up to 60,000t/yr. The facility will be built in two stages, the first with a capacity of 30,000t/yr will be commissioned by 2021 while stage two will double the plant’s capacity.

Czechia-owned EP UK Investments (EPUKI) revealed plans to almost double the electrical capacity of its under-development South Humber Bank Energy Centre EfW plant. EPUKI started the process of applying for a development consent order (DCO) to allow it to expand its previously consented 49.9MWe to 95MWe.

An environmental permit application revealed progress on a relaunched EfW plant in St Helens. The Greengate Energy Recovery Facility is being taken forward by Ireland’s state-owned utility company Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and has previously involved local glassmaker Pilkington. The pair gained planning consent from St Helens Council late last year. However, the company is currently waiting on a decision to discharge a planning condition that means the plant cannot move forward until an investigation to look for mine entries on site has been submitted to the council.

Anaerobic digestion plant supplier Bowman Power has overhauled two biogas plants owned by Germany-based Bonnhoff Buchenhofin. The work boosted outputs while also cutting the amount of feedstock the plants needed.

A coalition of four anti-incineration groups held a "peaceful protest" at the Welsh Assembly. The group protested about EfW plant developments in Cardiff, Swansea and the Usk Valley as well as a controversial biomass-fired plant in Barry, which gained planning consent without an environmental impact assessment.

Netherlands-based HVC revealed a second horticulture company is sourcing heat from its Heerhugowaard-based EfW plant. It struck a deal to supply a greenhouse complex owned by Gootjes AllPlant.

UK waste management firm Amey said its Allerton Waste Recovery Park saved 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide since it was put into operation in March last year. It said the reduction was made due to the waste being processed for energy recovery rather than being sent to landfill. The site includes a 24MWe EfW plant and a 1.1MWe biogas facility, as well as a materials recovery facility, and can handle up to 320,000t/yr.

A2A has issued a tender to deal with ash from its Acerra EfW plant. The work involves taking about 12,500 tonnes of ash from the plant on three occasions. The EfW plant near Naples consists of three lines each processing up to 27 tonnes an hour of waste. It also produces about 600,000MWh of electricity a year.

Norweigan municipality-owned Oslo Kommune Energigjenvinningsetaten issued a transparency notice stating it will sign a deal with Germany-based Martin to overhaul the Haraldrud EfW plant. The deal is worth NOK50m (€4.9m) and will focus on "increasing the capacity and quality" of the EfW plant, which was built by W+E Umweltechnik in 1985. Martin is getting the contract directly based on the work it carried out on Oslo’s other EfW plant, the Klemetsrud facility, in 2014.

Wheelabrator Harewood started the process of asking the UK government for a DCO for its Andover-based EfW plant development. The plant would have a capacity of 65MWe and be able to process 500,000t/yr of waste-derived fuel.

An environmental permit consultation has been opened into a planned expansion of the Kemsley Generating Station, known as K3, which is also being developed by Wheelabrator. Currently, the Kent-based plant is consented to process 550,000t/yr, but this expansion would allow its to process up to 657,000t/yr. Wheelabrator is in the process of securing DCO for the plant and an entirely new development called Wheelabrator Kemsley North (WKN).

Municipality-owned North London Waste Authority began the tendering process for its vast waste treatment park. The process started with a tender worth £106m (€122.6m) for the first stage of the North London Heat and Power (NLHP) facility.

Work is due to be completed to install biogas-to-grid equipment at the Blaydon Quarry landfill site in an effort to deal with long-standing odour issues. The move "should reduce any odours" coming from the site near Newcastle.

A consultation opened into altering UK-based waste business Transwaste’s environmental permit to include a new biomass-fired SRF drying plant. The permit confirms the SRF-drying plant will be able to treat up to 60,000t/yr and will include bunkered storage. Earlier this month, it was also revealed that Transwaste gained planning consent retrospectively for the SRF-drying plant after it was built 140 metres away from the approved site.

The University of Sheffield relaunched plans to build a “flagship” Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC). It is looking to “procure a wide range of new equipment focusing on bio-energy, renewable energy and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies”. In August this year the university withdrew a tender for a similar system involving the supply of two multifuel-fired boilers.

A consultation opened into an environmental permit for a biogas facility being developed by BioConstruct Newenergy. Located in Dartford, Kent, it will have 499kW CHP engine and process up to 14,000t/yr of manure and straw bedding.

The Environment Agency confirmed that as of this month it has not received an application for an environmental permit for the otherwise fully consented Northacre waste-gasification plant. Last month the Hills Group, which is behind the development, confirmed to ENDS it was still looking for "commercial elements" for the plant. If it goes ahead, the 25.5MWe plant, which also secured CfD funding in September 2017, will process 160,000t/yr of SRF and mixed commercial and industrial waste.

And finally…

Lawyers were the only winner as an NGO lost its appeal over an earlier High Court ruling refusing its judicial review over the Environment Agency’s decision to award Covanta’s Rookery South EfW plant an environmental permit in January last year.

The EfW development survived another judicial review covering its planning consent in 2014 and won the UK’s first development control order in 2013. ENDS’ records show no other EfW facility has survived two judicial reviews.

US-based Covanta is developing the plant, which is now under construction, with UK-based Green Investment Group. The plant is due to be operational in 2022; Switzerland-based Hitachi Zosen Inova is the lead contractor.

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