The biggest signal yet that the North London Waste Authority will build a large new energy from waste plant at its existing Edmonton site came this week with proposals for district heating nearby.
The Authority was in attendance at a meeting held at London’s City Hall to launch the ambitious Lee Valley Heat Network which will provide heat for a number of sites including a new “eco-neighbourhood” of 5,000 homes planned for Meridian Water, close to the existing EfW plant at LondonWaste’s EcoPark.
Late last year, the North London Waste Authority abandoned tenders for a £3billion waste project which included a waste services contract with Spanish-owned FCC.
At the time of the ending of the FCC involvement in September 2013, the authority indicated it would continue to pursue an energy recovery route for waste treatment. The district heating scheme unveiled this week will take hot water from the existing Edmonton facility, which is run by LondonWaste – itself a company owned by north London local authorities – and also from other dedicated combined heat and power plants.
But, the lifespan of the existing Edmonton incinerator is only until 2025 at best and plans for a replacement plant will have to be drawn up during the next few years to ensure a facility would be in place for the mid-2020s or even earlier.
The existing plant has had large sums spent on it and meets emissions standards although meeting these is challenging and involves more daily work than is needed in a newer plant.
As yet, it is unclear how the new facility would be financed but the local authority is expected to look at a range of options and “special purpose vehicles”. One possible route could be for LondonWaste to run the new plant for the first part of its life, and then invite private sector involvement.
Speaking at the City Hall launch, Cllr Alan Sitkin, leader of Enfield Council, said: “The objectives of this project meet the triple bottom line, economics, the environmental and social. It is a very attractive prospect providing district heating and it has worked elsewhere, especially in Continental Europe. Hamburg, for example, is remunicipalising its energy grid.”
Matthew Pencharz, senior energy and environmental advisor, to the mayor of London, told the meeting the mayor saw the Enfield project as an “example for what we see as London’s future”.
He went on to highlight population growth, saying this had increased by 600,000 since the mayor came to power. “How are we going to keep the lights on in a sustainable way? Electricity usage is increasing by 4% a year and we are looking to increase electric transport.”
He added the mayor wanted 25% of energy demand met by local sources by 2025 and there will be a consultation soon on the mayor’s infrastructure plan and funding regimes.
“Energy from Waste can go a long way to help. SELCHP finally, after 20 years, is now living up to its title of combined heat and power.”
Clyde Loakes, chair of the NLWA told the audience at the launch that the NLWA is the second largest waste authority in the country in terms of waste activities, after Manchester. The area has a population of 1.9 million and handles 900,000 tonnes per annum of predominantly household waste.
“Since the early 70s, the energy from waste facility at Edmonton has been of very significant service for north Londoners. LondonWaste Ltd has run the plant since December 1994 and the team run by David Sargent provides excellent and cost effective services for North London.”
Cllr Loakes noted the Edmonton facility offered an energy opportunity, particularly if exploited locally. “We can go beyond this by using heat.” And, he said the authority would be “working together to modify the plant and buildings to deliver the [district heating] project.”
In terms of a new plant, he said: “There is the potential to build a new Energy Recovery Facility to take over from the existing plant by 2025. If developed, it will be a modern and cost efficient plant for the future. You will hear more on this later in the year.”
An NLWA meeting is expected to firm up a plan for a possible new facility at a meeting in September this year.