A new era of electricity generation has dawned in North Yorkshire after a pioneering energy from waste plant was declared fully operational.
Allerton Waste Recovery Park will transform an annual 320,000 tonnes of waste from households in North Yorkshire and York into enough power for at least 40,000 homes, but potentially as many as 60,000 homes, based on Ofgem’s most recent figures for a typical UK household’s usage.
It will also reduce landfill and increase recycling.
The three-year build programme by leading infrastructure firm Amey reached its final construction milestone on 1 March when it formally moved into its 25-year operational phase following a period of rigorous independent commissioning and testing.
The complex and high-profile project – built on a former quarry and adjacent to a landfill site near the A1 – was completed within budget by Amey under the Government’s Public Private Partnership scheme to finance, design, build and operate the facility in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council.
Amey are partnered with Equitix and the Pensions Infrastructure Platform who together are the shareholders in the SPV contracted to build and operate the plant for the next 25 years.
Allerton Waste Recovery Park is unique in the UK for combining three state-of-the-art technologies on one site – mechanical treatment, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste (EfW).
Together, the technologies increase recycling from collected ‘black bag’ household waste in both councils’ areas while cutting the amount sent to landfill in the county by at least 90 per cent.
Figures released by the Environment Agency in 2016 showed that landfill capacity in England was decreasing and estimated that the amount of non-hazardous landfill would run out by 2024. Energy from waste is just one part of the solution to combat the country’s waste problem.
Chief executive of Amey, Andy Milner said: “Allerton Waste Recovery Park is unique and demonstrates Amey’s practical capabilities in consulting, engineering and construction to deliver complex better infrastructure for our society.
“It’s a significant milestone. A decade ago we were not in this market. Now we have one plant live, two on the way in Milton Keynes and the Isle of Wight, and one planning application submitted in Cambridgeshire. I am also pleased we have made a positive impact on local employment with close to 100 employees working on the site recruited from the local area. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Yorkshire councils and making a positive environmental impact on how the county’s waste is managed.”
County Councillor Andrew Lee, executive member for Waste Management for North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to see this project come to fruition and for Allerton Waste Recovery Park to begin full service. The facility is a step forward in the way the county treats its waste, turning it into a resource.”
Acting leader and executive member for the Environment at City of York Council, Councillor Andrew Waller said: “We will continue to support our residents to reduce the waste we produce and recycle more, but this treatment plant is a very effective and positive way to minimise the impact of non-recyclable waste. During the commissioning and testing, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill and a benefit that some material going there is being recycled and reused. It saves money on expensive landfill taxes and even produces energy which we can sell back into the national grid.”
Allerton Waste Recovery Park can deal with up to 1,400 tonnes of waste per day. First, the waste passes through mechanical treatment where machinery separates the recyclable, food and biodegradable material. Recyclates can be reprocessed into new products while biodegradable materials pass to the anaerobic digester for conversion into electricity.
The remaining waste is burned in the energy from waste facility to create electricity. Comprehensive filter systems capture and control emissions and even the resulting ash is suitable for re-processing once metals have been removed for recycling. Every year, the EfW will generate around 74,000 tonnes of ash which will be turned into construction-related materials for use on highways and infrastructure projects.
Anaerobic digestion and EfW treatment will together generate around 218GWh electricity per year. Some of this is used to power the facility itself but the plant will also export enough electricity to support a town up to one and a half times the size of Harrogate. Early signs suggest the turbine is working efficiently and has already started exporting electricity above the designed 24MW per hour onto the national grid.