The UK currently generates 330 million tonnes of waste in total each year. More than 50% of this is sent to landfill and despite the fact that 90% is recyclable, only 27% is currently recycled. These levels are set to increase with an annual rise in household waste production of 3% and waste production levels doubling by 2020. In the UK, the recycling and waste management industry is uniquely positioned to address this challenge and provide solutions for combating climate change and increasing levels of waste.
The Thames Gateway is envisaged as a key part of the environmental and waste management solution for the UK and is set to become a central hub for the Environmental Technologies Sector. Within this region, the London Sustainable Industries Park (SIP), which is being developed by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), will house the largest concentration of Environmental Technologies companies in the UK.
A key project within the Sustainable Industries Park is the Cyclamax waste-to-energy plant which is the first of its kind for the Thames Gateway and which will provide a critical solution to community-level sustainable waste management once completed in 2015. The plant, using the process of advanced gasification, will take in around 120,000 tonnes of industrial and commercial waste generated at the Sustainable Industries Park. This will in turn produce 16MW of energy, which will feed directly into the integrated power supply for the Sustainable Industries Park, helping it to become self-sustaining and carbon neutral.
How gasification works
The production of energy at Cyclamax facilities will be based on the process of gasification, where non-inert materials are converted to a gas (synthesis gas or syngas) made up of differing proportions of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and some methane. Gasification is a highly effective process whereby virtually all the energy in the material being gasified is converted into gas, providing a very efficient method of generating steam and electricity from waste materials. Waste types accepted for energy generation will include packaging that is too contaminated for recycling, treated wood wastes, damaged and/or out of date stock from supermarkets and other wastes that are too low in value to recycle.
The Cyclamax facility will also provide renewable and low-carbon electricity to the local network, enough to supply the needs of 31,500 households in the Borough of Barking and Dagenham, approximately 45% of households in the borough. By generating power from materials that traditionally would have been sent to landfill, the Cyclamax plant will effectively save 46,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, equivalent to taking 20,000 cars off the road. The excess heat generated by the plant will also tap into the proposed district heating main that is being built into the Sustainable Industries Park and a new housing development at Barking Reach.
The partnership between Cyclamax and the London Sustainable Industries Park is an exciting new step for the Thames Gateway region and one that will pave the way for yet more investment and innovation in the Environmental Technologies Sector.
The decision made by Cyclamax to locate its pioneering waste-to-energy resource park in the Thames Gateway will further strengthen the Thames Gateway as an exciting hub for growth for the recycling and waste management industry.
Gareth John is managing director of Invest Thames Gateway, the lead inward investment agency for the Thames Gateway region