People have been using waste to generate energy since the late 1800s, although the process has come a long way since then. At this scale, waste is sorted at another facility so that all recyclable materials are removed, along with anything toxic. This is used to create RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) which is delivered to the Energy from Waste facility in bales or pellets. It’s burnt at a very high temperature and the heat is used to make steam, which turns the turbines to generate energy.
An energy from waste facility like this uses waste products which would usually be sent to landfill or shipped overseas for processing. In 2015, the UK sent more than 15 million tonnes of waste to landfill. But landfill sites leak unwanted chemicals into the ground, produce unfiltered gas which has to be burnt off, increasing CO2 production wastes greenbelt land or land which could be built on and leaves plastic in the ground which can’t be broken down.
Using waste to produce energy means that we’ll spend less public money shipping it overseas, do less environmental damage by burying our waste underground and uses it to create power and heat instead.
Last Updated: Mar 04, 2018
Why do we need new energy sources?
Approximately a quarter of the UK’s electricity generating capacity is due to close in the coming decade and the UK Government is clear that new, low carbon generation capacity is required to provide a reliable, secure and affordable electricity supply. In order to diversify and decarbonise the electricity generation, the Government is supportive of a dramatic increase in the amount of renewable energy generation capacity, which will also help the UK to meet its commitments under the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
The benefits of an increase in renewable electricity generation include:
A reduction in dependence on fossil fuel use which will improve energy security;
A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from traditional fossil fuel energy generation; and
Economic opportunities as a result of the construction and operation of new facilities.
Refuse derived fuel, or RDF, is a non-hazardous fuel stock which is produced from domestic and business waste. It includes biodegradable material as well as plastics and other non-recyclable waste products.
UK households generate 22 million tons of waste every year, of which 44% is recycled. The majority of recycling material is shipped overseas for processing but many importers find that the shipments they receive are too mixed or contaminated to be recycled and much of it ends up in landfill.
This includes 2/3 of all the UK's plastic recyclable waste which, until recently has been shipped to China. In January 2018, China implemented a programme called National Sword, banning imports of plastic waste from other countries and leaving the UK in need of alternative solutions for waste management.
Lea Bank Energy Plant will process half a million tonnes of waste per year, using it to generate energy and heat for local residents and businesses.
Being an efficient energy recovery process, CHP facilities produce lower carbon emissions per unit of energy produced than conventional power facilities.
Homes and businesses making use of the power and heat produced enjoy a lower carbon footprint than those using fossil-fuel-generated energy.
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2018
Will this use waste from our homes and businesses?
No - at least not directly.
Before it can be used to generate heat and power, waste must be sorted to remove any potentially toxic materials and to ensure that any recyclable content has been sent for recycling. So the Lea Bank Energy Park won't be collecting your green waste or black bag waste to use as fuel.
It is proposed that the Lea Bank Energy Park would import up to 500,000 tonnes of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) or similar residual waste per annum. Residual waste is defined as non hazardous, combustible mixed waste which remains after recycling activities. The fuel would be effectively and efficiently dealt with by means of a modern and proven industrial moving grate combustion technology which would have the ability to generate up to 49.99MW of electricity and up to 50MW of heat. The exact split of electricity and heat generated by the CHP facility would depend upon the heat demands of the end users and the grade of heat required. 49.99MW is enough electricity to power approximately 60,000 homes, although between 4-6MW of the power would be used to run the facility.
In most energy generation schemes, the heat produced is a wasted by-product. Even in facilities which capture the heat, it is hard to use - the distance from businesses or residential developments mean that the heat loses temperature during transportation, rendering it unusable. LBEP's proximity to the airport, and to new developments already approved for the area, mean that the heat generated will be able to be used much more efficiently.
Last Updated: Jul 12, 2018
What are the outputs?
Power - current plans estimate that the Lea Bank Energy Park could generate 49MW of electricity per year.
Heat - in the form of hot air or water which can be used by local farms and businesses as well as homes.
Metal - the process results in some metal residue which is collected and sent for recycling off-site.
Ash - there are two types of ash generated by incineration.
Fly ash, which is airborne in the smoke from burning. This is filtered, collected and sent away for licensed disposal off site.
Bottom ash, the ash left in the incinerator after burning. This is also collected and sent away for licensed disposal.