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EfW investors confident after Air Products failure

A month after the failure of Air Products’ large-scale Teesside project, investors in the energy-from-waste (EfW) sector have said the industry is robust enough to withstand such setbacks.

Waste2Tricity chairman Peter Jones chaired a panel of investment company representatives on the state of the EfW market at the Waste To Energy Summit in London on 11 May.

Jones asked whether ripples from Air Products’ withdrawal from the sector on 4 April, scrapping the construction of two plasma gasification facilities, had now been seen in the funding and finance area.

James Samworth, Foresight partner, said that ”hiccoughs” in large projects like Air Products’ would affect the market but it would be able to overcome them.

“Definitely some people who have lost money will not invest again in related sectors, but I think there are plenty who will. It will sharpen focus.

“Technical due diligence bills are not likely to go down. Waste to energy as an asset class is mature enough to withstand some failures.”

He said high-profile failures could be counteracted by many examples of successful overseas EfW projects that have been running well for decades.

Glennmont Partners technical director Peter Dickson said it was important to keep projects as simple as possible to attract investment.

In a different discussion at the same event, Viridor chief executive Ian McAulay said EfW projects with technology that did not deliver should not be called failures.

“If we did everything not to fail, we would achieve nothing. If you are going to innovate, by definition, somewhere along the line there will be some things that do not work. That’s not failure, that’s progress.”

In April, communities secretary Greg Clark delayed his decision on Peel Environmental’s Bilsthorpe Energy Centre because of concerns that its 95,000 tonnes a year plasma gasification plant involved similar technology to Air Products’ Tees Valley facilities.

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