SUEZ secures Greater Manchester contract

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has announced that following a year-long procurement process to secure new operating contracts for the Greater Manchester waste and resources management services, the preferred tenderer for both of the lots being awarded is SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd. The contract is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, involving the handling of waste collected from approximately 1.2 million households.

Lot 1 includes the operation of five residual waste facilities, nine Household Waste Recycling Centres, eight Transfer Loading Stations, the Bolton Thermal Recovery Facility, a Materials Recovery Facility, the obligation to produce refuse-derived fuel and associated rail transport and supply to the Runcorn Energy Recovery Facility.

Lot 2 includes the operation of eleven standalone Household Waste Recycling Centres that are located on sites separate to the main waste treatment facilities. The decision was made to separate the contract into lots to generate a competitive market response.

There will now be a mobilisation period so the current contractor; Viridor (Greater Manchester) Ltd can hand over the operation of all the facilities to SUEZ. The new contracts will commence on Saturday 1st June 2019. Existing staff working at the sites will transfer over to SUEZ.

SUEZ beat off competition from Veolia for the contract, after Viridor withdrew from the procurement process, citing commercial reasons and its intention to focus on other market opportunities.

Viridor’s other, separate agreement with the GMCA is unaffected and continues as normal. This is a 25-year contract to process residual waste at the Runcorn Energy Recovery Facility, which has 16 years more to run, with an option to extend for a further 15 years.

A third lot, for biowaste services, was cancelled in October 2018, over uncertainty about the national resources and waste strategy. The GMCA is now looking to secure a contract for a framework of in-vessel composting (IVC) operators capable of receiving 125,000 tonnes per annum of household food and garden waste for treatment and recycling. The GMCA currently utilises IVCs at Bredbury Parkway (Stockport), Salford Road (Bolton) and Trafford Park (Trafford).

#Editor’sPick – WtE & Biofuel Plants

Australia – WtE Plant

Construction of a WtE plant

On 8th March, construction officially began on the site of a new waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Kwinana, Perth, which will be operated by Veolia.

The facility will incorporate two full automated furnaces or lines and will recover energy from 400,000 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste each year. It will also recover recyclable materials that otherwise would have gone to landfill and convert residual ash into by-products such as bricks or road aggregate.

See the full details of this project.

Paraguay – Biofuel Plant

Construction of an US$800 million biofuel plant

The ECB Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Paraguayan government that will allow the company to continue its investment in the country.

As part of the agreement, a new complex known as Omega Green will be developed to house the first second-generation renewable fuels plant in the Southern Hemisphere. The facility will produce renewable diesel and kerosene for civil and military aviation from feedstock such as soybean or cooking oil.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Currently Trending: WtE & Biofuel Projects

US$5,151 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 12 new additions and 37 updates.

The top waste trends included:

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.

Does New Zealand have a burning waste problem?

One recent new investment proposal caught my eye. A new waste-to-energy plant is being mooted in New Zealand, at Huntly, just south of Auckland, the country’s largest city. Details are scant, although the project’s proposer (Whakaaro-Kingsman) seems to be looking to the new Copenhagen WtE plant, opened in 2017, for inspiration.

New Zealand currently has no major WtE facilities, so the construction of such a plant would represent a significant change in waste policy. The country remains almost totally reliant on landfill, for which statistical collection is poor. The principal driver of change is environmental concerns over rising landfill levels. The recent Chinese ban on imports of waste also appears to be making New Zealanders take more notice of how their rubbish is dealt with.

The past few years have seen better management and control of landfill, and efforts to introduce ‘circular economy’ approaches to waste management.  In 2008, New Zealand passed the Waste Minimisation Act, which began to tax waste sent to landfill, as in Europe. Recent government policy has focussed on reducing landfill tonnage by recycling, and reduction of plastic waste in particular. Plastic shopping bags are due to be phased out in July 2019.

The role of WtE in New Zealand’s waste policy looks dubious, to say the least. The latest government waste strategy, dating to 2010, makes no mention of it as even a possible option. Aside from the environmental position, many of the drivers which would promote WtE do not really exist in New Zealand. The country has plenty of space, with only a small overall population and no major cities, by international standards, aside from Auckland. It’s not clear that other major towns, such as Christchurch or even the capital, Wellington, have the level of waste generation needed to sustain a commercial WtE enterprise.

The Huntly proposal would, on the face of it, need to be fed with waste from across much of New Zealand or even further afield in order to be viable. It is not the only WtE plant mooted in New Zealand, however. The town of Westport on the South Island has been looking using a disused cement works site for a WtE plant (possibly involving pyrolysis) since at least 2016. In May 2018, the developer (Renew Energy Ltd) announced a NZ$300 million deal with China Tianying to build the plant. Also on the South Island, there are tentative plans to build a specialised pyrolysis plant at Blenheim, to deal with waste from the region’s many vineyards.

Proposed WtE plants in New Zealand:

map

At present, none of these plans look like coming to fruition. There’s no obvious public sector enthusiasm, and environmental concerns – justified or not – make them politically difficult. Finally, it’s simply not clear that New Zealand generates the levels of waste to make such investments viable.

There is pressure for change, however, even if it’s simply driven by residents looking at waste that used to be shipped to China and wondering what to do with it. That’s not to say there’s no activity, but successful projects are more likely to be small-scale and focussed in approach. For example, in August 2017, a new PET plastic recycling plant was opened in Lower Hutt, near Wellington. This has attracted public funding from the government’s Waste Minimisation Fund. The plant was upgraded in 2019 and can now handle 6,000 tonnes of PET bottles per year.

Written by Andy Crofts, Chief Data Analyst.

A Guide to WasteView Projects

WasteView Projects provides your business with unparalleled access to ‘real-time’ business opportunities in the Waste, Bioenergy & Recycling sectors. Projects in our industry-leading database are added and updated daily by our team of expert global researchers.

How does it work?

You can generate your tailored list of projects by selecting your relevant criteria:

  • Facility type
  • Waste type
  • Development phase
  • Location
  • Capacity
  • Output
  • Value
  • Date range

E.g. Anaerobic Digestion in the UK.

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Next, you’ll be presented with a list of projects that match your search criteria and you can toggle between our ‘By Projects’ and ‘Instant MarketView’ functions.

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Instant MarketView provides you with an instant visual snapshot using your defined search and creates a report, complete with graphs and statistics, that can be downloaded for use in business plans, strategy documents or for sales and marketing.

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You can also create:

Saved Searches to keep track of particular locations or project types you’re targeting. When a Saved Search is accessed, it is re-run as if for the first time to give you the latest projects/updates.

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Containers to store your personalised collections of projects.

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Your search results can also be exported and downloaded as Excel or PDF files.

Each project is split into sections:

  • Key project facts
  • Project updates
  • Project information
  • Contact information

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What’s included?

With WasteView Projects, you get full access to the AcuComm database. This includes access to 6,800+ projects and the contact details of over 20,000 decision-makers that are associated with them.

Your subscription gives you unlimited downloads, the ability to search by company and an easy export functionality to populate your CRM.

Get started by identifying your new business opportunities in less than a minute.

If you’d like any more information about WasteView Projects or any other of AcuComm’s products, get in touch with the team today on 01243 788686.

Interserve rescued from administration

Interserve plc’s slide into administration last week has been blamed largely on the company’s involvement in the waste-to-energy (WtE) sector. On the face of it, this development will do little to inspire confidence in the future for the UK’s waste sector infrastructure projects but coming so soon after the liquidation of Interserve’s rival outsourcer Carillion, it begs the question whether the collapse stems from exposure to the WtE industry or is more a consequence of internal corporate failings.

According to Interserve’s Chairman, Glyn Barker, things started to go wrong in mid-2016 when ‘huge problems’ began to appear in its WtE contracts. He is on record as saying, “not only did they produce huge losses and drain the company’s cash flow, but because of the unusual nature of these projects, over the following two years, as things continued to deteriorate, there remained great uncertainties about what it would cost, finally, to deal with these problems.”

Interserve’s Chief Executive of 13 years, Adrian Ringrose, left the company in November 2016 and on the following day, news emerged that its role on the Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC) had been terminated after Viridor claimed it had “continually and repeatedly failed to meet delivery milestones.”

Earlier, in May 2016, Ringrose had said the cost of exiting the WtE sector would be £70 million. More recent estimates put this figure at £227 million.

This morning’s breaking news is that over the weekend, a ‘pre-pack’ insolvency arrangement was put in place, administrators EY were installed and Interserve plc’s assets were immediately moved to Montana 1 Limited, a group controlled by Interserve plc’s lenders. This move means that the company will continue to operate, out of insolvency, with Montana 1 trading as Interserve Group Limited.

Where this leaves the development of the much-delayed £145 million Derby and Derbyshire Waste Treatment Centre, which was being developed by a joint venture between Interserve and Renewi, is uncertain. Operations were expected to start by the end of 2018 and while that did not materialise, Renewi and its clients, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council, have not given any indication that project completion will not be achieved at some stage soon.

Currently Trending: Biomass & MBT Investment

US$4,294 million worth of projects were covered by our researchers last week, including 19 new additions and 29 updates.

The top waste trends included:

Click on the above trends to access a real-time project search in the AcuComm database.

#Editor’sPick – Biomass & Biogas Plants

Brazil – Biomass Plant

Development of a wood-fuelled biomass plant

The State Environmental Protection Agency has issued a construction licence for a new biomass plant in Cambará do Sul, allowing work to start.

The facility will have the capacity to process over 700,000 tonnes of forestry and sawmill waste each year, producing 50 MW of electricity.

Catch up on the latest from this project.

Belarus – Biogas Plants

Construction of three biogas plants

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will be providing a US$11.3 million loan for the construction of two biogas plants in Belarus.

The plants will be situated in Brest and Minsk and will generate 23.6 GWh of clean energy each year.

Construction is expected to start in Spring, alongside another biogas plant in Brest which is being funded by a local bank. Operations are expected to begin by the end of 2019.

Find out more about this project.

Do you care about China?

Anyone reading AcuComm’s waste reports will know there is a lot going on in China. Since January 2018, AcuComm has collected information on 123 new waste projects in China. The majority of these (87, or 70%) are for WtE incineration of waste. They have a combined estimated value of US$13.2 billion, or US$106 million each, with a feedstock throughput of 46.3 million tonnes (roughly 1,200 tonnes per day on average) and power generation of 2,095 MW (17 MW each).

The map below shows the distribution of these investments; principally in the richer areas of the east, but increasingly in the major urban centres further inland. China is clearly experiencing something of a waste investment boom. Remember, these projects are just those announced over the past year.

china-map Source: AcuComm database, March 2019

The principal driver of this investment is rapid urbanisation and economic growth, allied to a historic lack of modern waste facilities. I mentioned Shenzhen in an earlier article; this city near Hong Kong has grown from near zero to 12 million people in just a few decades. This has been the consequence of government policies, which have striven to create wealthy urban centres, largely in the east. This has been all-too successful from a waste management point of view, as modern facilities have either not been built or have been overwhelmed by demand. In recent years, the Chinese government has altered its focus to greater development of previously-poorer cities further west and inland, such as Chongqing. These places are far from empty. Chongqing municipality famously has over 30 million people, although it should be noted that the city itself accounts for only a fraction of this.

The traditional method of waste disposal in China has been, at best, landfill which is often unmanaged, or simple dumping of waste outside a city’s boundaries. This has become unpopular and increasingly difficult to ignore. No wonder therefore that China’s municipal authorities have tended to seize on waste incineration as a relatively quick and easy way to ameliorate the problem. China is building, or plans to build, some of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the world over the next few years. There is perhaps an element of competition here, as city governments compete with each other to be seen to be addressing the issue with certainty.

So, China is a boom market for waste plants, which should gladden the international industry. But does it? The market is heavily concentrated in the hands of Chinese companies. The most important of these are China Everbright International, based in Hong Kong, and Chongqing Sanfeng Covanta Environmental Industry. A lot of waste plants have been built using Chinese companies alone, although there is a degree of technology transfer. There are a handful of European companies active in this respect, headed by Martin GmbH fur Umwelt und Energietechnik, which mainly provides equipment for Chongqing Sanfeng Covanta, as well as a few major Japanese players such as Hitachi Zosen and Mitsubishi. Equipment suppliers or contractors from the USA, Canada or the UK appear to be almost entirely absent from the market.

Why is this? It would seem that China remains a difficult market, in perception and maybe reality too. Anecdotal evidence suggests that worries about intellectual property persist, alongside a perception of bureaucracy, corruption and political interference. Nor should China be seen as an easy place to throw up any old plant. A lot of prestige attaches to adherence to international standards, and even in these cases, developments can be held up for years in the face of popular opposition. For example, the Beijing city government has long had plans to build more plants than it has ever been politically able to do. Click here for some clips from a 2010 documentary on the subject.

A small number of companies outside China have taken the plunge, headed by Martin GmbH, which is clearly concentrating on China as a principal export market. Should others look at following suit? Waste generation in China is only going to increase as the economy expands and the average wealth of the Chinese people rises accordingly. And while the current focus appears to be squarely on WtE incineration, other areas, such as environmentally-aware recycling, sorting and advanced resource recovery, are severely under-developed but will surely be needed in future. The market may be difficult, but the opportunities are clearly there for anyone with a long term perspective.

Written by Andy Crofts, Chief Data Analyst.

Is forest biomass a renewable energy source?

A landmark lawsuit was filed against the European Union in early March, with plaintiffs from six countries charging that the EU’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) will devastate forests and increase greenhouse gas emissions by promoting burning forest wood as renewable and carbon neutral.

The case argues that RED II will accelerate widespread forest devastation and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions by not counting CO2  emissions from burning wood fuels. Wood-fired power plants emit more CO2  per unit of energy generated than coal plants, but RED II counts these emissions as zero.  The treatment of forest biomass as low or zero-carbon renewable energy in both RED I and RED II has and will continue to increase harvesting pressure on forests in Europe and North America to meet the growing demand for woody biomass fuel in the EU.

The map below shows all wood-fired biomass incineration projects in the EU in the AcuComm database, as of March 2019. There are 358 in total, of which 215 are known to be operational. The total estimated value of the 358 is US$21.7 billion.

woodfired biomass in Europe

RED II binds EU Member States to achieve an EU-wide target of 32% energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, and is a critical element in the EU’s overall goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The use of biomass for energy, primarily solid biomass burned for heat and power (wood, agricultural residues, and black liquor, a by-product of the pulp and paper industry), increased significantly in the EU from 1990 to 2016, particularly in the years leading up to and following the 2009 RED. By 2016, bioenergy constituted almost 65% of renewable energy inputs in the EU, nearly twice as much as all the other renewable energy sources combined. Solid biomass inputs increased 140% over the same period and constituted 45% of renewable energy inputs in 2016.

Although the lawsuit is likely to prove a largely symbolic gesture, it does potentially challenge the future of the burgeoning biomass power industry in the EU, with the potential to threaten the future of newbuild biomass CHP plants, as well as the growing trend towards converting existing coal-fired plants to using biomass – examples in AcuComm’s WasteView Project database include Selby (Drax), Tilbury, Ironbridge, Aarhus, Fredericia, Kalundborg, Hanasaari, Eemshaven and Linköping.

Written by Ian Taylor, Senior Editor & Research Consultant.