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Operational delay for pioneering Dong plant

2000 dong northwich

The world’s first full-scale plant for separating recyclable material from residual waste using enzymes, mechanical sorting and anaerobic digestion (AD) is expected to be delayed by around two months.

Dong Energy says its REnescience facility in Northwich, Cheshire, had been due to be fully operational by the end of April but the milestone in now expected in early July.

The main reason for the delay is said to be construction work on the bioreactors that has taken longer than anticipated, principally because it is the first time such technology has been scaled up.

Flemming Ravnholt Kanstrup, project director REnescience Northwich, said: “Construction of most of the plant has gone well, but we have had to spend a little extra time on some of the large equipment – getting it in place and getting it commissioned.

“Because it is the first time a plant of this kind has been constructed, it is normal to expect some challenges during construction.”

The Northwich scheme follows 10 years of testing and the operation of a demo plant in Denmark. The facility will accept household, municipal and some non-hazardous commercial waste from northern England and the north Midlands, supplied by FCC Environment.

2000 renescience dong

2000 renescience dong

Kanstrup said the AD plant was already operational and final landscaping work across the site was taking place. Temporary site cabins will be moved and reduced in number to allow the parking area and entrance to be completed.

“We are focusing on the start date, when full operations will begin on-site and we are currently undertaking final commissioning and testing activities. Once all of the plant has been commissioned we will start trials with real waste – this is currently planned to take place towards the end of June,” he said.

The facility will employ 24 people when fully operational and is expected to treat up to 120,000 tonnes of waste a year.

REnescience technology uses enzymes, mechanical sorting and AD to produce biogas and generate approximately 5MW of renewable electricity. The technology captures organic materials and extracts clean materials such as plastic and metals for recycling.

Original timeline


  • February: Planning consent granted by Cheshire West and Chester Council. Construction work begins on-site
  • September: Environmental permit awarded
  • October: Commissioning begins on parts of the facility
  • December: First Power


  • mid-March: First municipal solid waste to site
  • May: Final phase handover/launch of site

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