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New MSW plant for UK

A new municipal solid waste (MSW) to energy centre will be built in Plymouth, processing up to 75,000 tonnes of MSW a year and exporting 3.2MW to the national grid.

Wardell Armstrong, the engineering and environmental consultancy, has received permission for the £15 million (€18 million) development from Devon County Council and will work with AAD South West, an Aero Thermal company, for the project.

Aero Thermal’s technology involves high temperatures of 160°C and pressure to break down paper, cardboard, packaging and woody waste, such as MSW and organic materials which will be supplied by supermarkets.

The company says this process allows for the different types of waste to be processed at the same time and therefore increases the speed of production by four times, improving biogas fabrication rates.

The heat produced (3.8MW) will also be used to produce steam to be used in the AD tanks, reducing the amount of energy the whole system needs.

Speaking to Biofuels International, Stephen Barnes, associate director at Wardell Armstrong, says: ‘There is a huge potential for many more such plants in the UK and the developers have a pipeline of projects pending the commencement of this build.

‘The UK benefits from landfill tax which indirectly supports the use of alternative treatment methods for wastes and therefore the UK is a prime geography for developments of this type. Devon and its need for a restoration medium for the old china clay workings were a perfect match for this process due to its generation of a soil substitute.’

He adds that there was broad support in getting the project off the ground because the community understood the sustainable benefits the project would bring as an alternative to landfill and incineration.

‘We’ve had very positive feedback for the above stakeholders in terms of restoration, redevelopment as well as bringing new jobs into the area.’

In the lead up to the approval, Wardell Armstrong worked to write an Environmental Impact Assessment with the Environment Agency, looking at land use and soils, hydrology and hydrogeology, traffic and access, air quality, noise, ecology and wildlife, landscape and visual impacts, and socio-economic effects.

Tristan Lloyd-Baker, AAD’s MD, says: ‘Our intention is to begin construction in early 2012 with a view to being fully operational from April 2013.’