Having been in the pipeline for a number of years, a 60 MW waste to energy plant planned to be developed on land owned by Tata Chemicals Europe in Cheshire, UK, is now set to proceed. Through site upgrades and a mutual offtake agreement for sodium bicarbonate, the project will deliver significant new infrastructure for TCE’s soda ash plant.
As a major manufacturer of soda ash, a chemical typically found in washing powder, Tata Chemicals Europe’s Lostock plant in North West England is a huge consumer of energy. Since 2010, Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) has been developing the EFW project to make use of the organisation’s existing industrial land at the site, which was made available following the closure of the coal-fired power station in 2000. With energy prices on the rise, the company originally teamed up with E.ON Energy from Waste to develop a project on its land that would deliver sodium bicarbonate for its process.
On 2nd October 2012, the then Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) granted consent under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989, to Tata Chemicals Europe and E.ON Energy from Waste, to construct and operate a 60MW energy from waste generation station.
Since then, E.ON has withdrawn from the project and earlier this year, TCE reached an agreement with Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant Limited (LSEP), a joint venture formed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and FCC Environment Group (FCC), which will now fund, own, construct and operate a new energy from waste plant (EFW) on land leased from TCE at its Lostock manufacturing site. CIP has a 60% stake, and FCC Environment a 40% stake. FCC will also operate the plant and supply 100% of the feedstock.
“We’re delighted to have reached agreement with LSEP for them to fund, own, build and operate the Lostock Energy from Waste Plant,” comments Fraser Ramsay, TCE’s Project Director. “We recognised the need for strong third-party support to take this project forward and, through this agreement, have secured leading energy from waste expertise to make the plant a reality.”
The plant will be developed in accordance with the planning consent secured in 2012. However, in August last year, TCE also applied for a Variation Application to increase the gross electrical output from 60MW to 90MW. At the time the Norwich Guardian reported a Tata spokesman as saying: "The variation application does not seek any changes to the approved design and layout and does not affect the previously reported environmental impacts. The increase in power output is possible due to the identification of more efficient equipment that is now available, and by changes to the fuel composition as a result of changes in the recycling rules in the intervening years since planning consent was granted."
Once operational the plant will process 600,000 tonnes of residual waste per annum, which will contribute to the UK government’s strategy to reduce landfill and export of waste. The facility will be among the largest waste-to-energy plants in the UK, as well as Europe, and is expected to power the equivalent of roughly 110,000 homes, offsetting more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Several hundred people will be employed on site over the entire construction phase and around 50 permanent jobs will be created once the plant is operational.
The two-boiler line project will be built by a consortium led by CNIM. With financial close being reached on the project in March this year, construction work was given the green light to go-ahead. The construction process will consist of two phases, starting with a 15-month enabling works program followed by a three-year building phase including six months of commissioning. The plant is scheduled to commence operations in the end of second quarter of 2023.
The £480 million Lostock Sustainable Energy Plant will, through site upgrades and mutual offtake agreements for sodium bicarbonate, deliver significant new infrastructure for TCE’s soda ash plant and its wider Lostock site, thereby underpinning TCE operations and jobs for the long term.
“Today is a milestone for the waste treatment industry here in the UK which is facing a severe capacity gap for the treatment of unrecyclable residual waste,” explains FCC Environment Group Chief Executive Paul Taylor. “We already successfully operate a number of plants here in the UK generating some 102 MW of green energy with a new plant due to come on stream in Edinburgh later this summer. So this development forms an important part of our strategy to continuously invest in the waste related infrastructure that is crucial for this country’s ability to process waste and power homes across the UK both today and in the future.”
Christina Grumstrup Sørensen, Senior Partner at CIP said: “We entered the project in the late development phase in September 2017 and have worked closely with the developers and FCC to reach financial close. The project will convert waste into energy and create many jobs during the construction and operation phases.”
Under a contract for up to 35 years, TCE will supply the EFW plant with its Briskarb® sodium bicarbonate product used for flue gas treatment. According to TCE, the long-term supply of significant volumes of Briskarb, in conjunction with the investment in the infrastructure at the site, will underpin its operations at Lostock for the long-term.
“At £480 million, this is one of the largest investments at the Lostock site since soda ash manufacturing commenced in 1907 and continues a rich industrial history of innovation and job creation in Northwich,” says Ramsay.
“The investment of tens of millions in the Lostock site will benefit our manufacturing facilities substantially, and the Briskarb® sodium bicarbonate supply contract secures a major new customer for our business, taking a substantial volume of Lostock’s sodium bicarbonate production from 2023 onwards,” he concludes.