An end to grand projects in the UK?

The funding landscape for large waste projects in the UK has altered in the past few years. In 2015, the government stepped back from funding new ventures in the waste sector, citing satisfactory progress in the reduction of the amount of waste going to landfill. According to the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Development Plan 2016-2021:

England is currently on track to meet the existing landfill diversion 2020 targets. As such the government is not currently planning to fund any new waste infrastructure projects beyond those already in the Pipeline. (p.64)

This Pipeline consists of four government-funded projects, as of February 2019. Three are currently under construction, while one has to have a public funding figure confirmed. The largest is the new WtE facility in Sutton, south London. This has a total public funding commitment of £191.1 million, although most of this has already been spent; the final tranche of £20 million is slated for 2018/19. The only ongoing government funding commitment for 2019/20 is a WtE plant in Gloucestershire. This is due to be fully operational in mid-2019. It received £50 million in 2018/19 and will receive a final £25 million in 2019/20. The third project (and only remaining PFI deal) is a gasification and anaerobic digestion facility in Shepperton, Surrey. At the time of writing, this is partially operational and due to come fully on stream later in 2019. It has received £102.2 million from government, the last being £8.9 million in 2018/19.

The one proposed funding project is a new WtE plant in Hoddeston, Hertfordshire. This was first announced by Veolia and Hertfordshire County Council in 2016, but work has been delayed by planning difficulties. As of May 2019, the government had yet to make a decision regarding it.

The government is not backing out of the sector altogether, of course; see Ian’s article this week on the CfD scheme, which continues to establish a government-backed minimum tariff for electricity generated by selected sites, albeit with limited success so far. But the level of central government investment is undeniably lower. Contrast the 2016 document with the 2010 National Infrastructure Plan, which talked about over 30 waste sector projects to receive funding:

In order to meet EU landfill diversion targets the Government will continue to support a programme of 21 contracted waste PFI projects and 11 projects still in procurement, at an estimated cost of £95 million in 2014-15 and £120 million a year from 2017-18. (p.36)

This could of course change back – who knows who will be running the UK Treasury in a few months’ time – but for the time being at least, the PFI/PPP pipeline is pretty much dry.

It would be wrong, however, to think that the UK market is drying up totally. It’s probably fair to say that the government’s focus has been on London and the south, but there’s plenty of private interest across the country. In 2019 so far, AcuComm has reported on seven new WtE plants planned across the UK. If all are built, these would generate around 210 MW of electricity and have a waste thoughput of 2.8 million tonnes per year. That is perhaps a big if; only one of those is currently under construction; a relatively small plant in Royal Wootton Bassett.

The most recent plan to be announced highlights some of the uncertainties. A new 410,000 tonne per year WtE facility is being mooted by Wheelabrator for Leeds, on the site of the former Skelton Grange power station. But it’s not wholly new. Biffa originally proposed such a plant in 2011, but the project was shelved in 2015. Wheelabrator has increased the size of the plant from Biffa’s proposed 300,000 tonnes, and hopes to reach financial close in 2020.

Where should investors and suppliers look, therefore? It may well be that smaller projects – such as the one in Wootton Bassett – offer a more certain return as investment shifts to the riskier private sector. If this trend continues it may well be that the UK is heading for a focus on more local and sustainable solutions rather than grand projects which can all too easily fall foul of planning, construction and – perhaps now – greater funding problems.

The map below shows all the currently-planned WtE facilities in the UK, as held in the AcuComm database. How many will make it? Click here to explore them all online.


AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Finland Biomass Plant

Construction of a wood-fuelled biomass plant

Varmalämmitys has signed an agreement to construct a biomass boiler plant in Kälviä.

The facility, which will be operated by Kokkolan Energia, will produce heat energy from locally-sourced wood-based feedstock.

Today’s Full Access Project will only be available to access for 7 days, so make sure you don’t miss out! Find out more.

Weekly Projects Update – 46 new/updated projects, worth an estimated US$4,453m

In the week ending 7th December 2018, AcuComm added 21 new projects and updated 25 in our database. These have a combined estimated value of US$4,453 million.

There are now 5,565 active projects in our database, worth an estimated US$359.8 billion.


New Project | Updated Project | Full Access Project

Continue reading Weekly Projects Update – 46 new/updated projects, worth an estimated US$4,453m

AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Turkey Biomass Plant

Extension of a biomass plant

Mavi Bayrak Enerji (MBE) is managing a new project to extend its Söke biomass power plant. The facility is the largest of its kind in Turkey to transform cotton stalks to energy.

Continue reading AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Turkey Biomass Plant

AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Australia WtE Facility

Development of a >100 MW WtE facility

The Next Generation’s (TNG) plans to develop a A$700 million waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in Eastern Creek, New South Wales, have been rejected by the Independent Planning Commission.

Continue reading AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Australia WtE Facility

AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Denmark Biogas Plant

Development of a biogas plant using chemical factory waste

On 18th June 2018, a new large-scale biogas plant was officially inaugurated in Kalundborg, Zealand. Construction started back in May 2017, two months behind schedule.

Continue reading AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Denmark Biogas Plant

Weekly Projects Update – 44 new/updated projects, worth an estimated US$3,222m

In the week ending 27th April 2018, AcuComm added 14 new projects and updated 30 in our database. These have a combined estimated value of US$3,222 million.

This brings our total number of active projects to 4,992. They have an estimated value of US$354.5 million or US$71 million on average.

Heatvalue 270418

  • Finland was the leading country in the past week in terms of project value, accounting for US$625 million. This was equal to 19.4% of the total for the week.
  • The leading company was Greenbelt Resources, an equipment supplier based in the USA.

View the latest projects.

AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Spain Biomass Plant

Construction of a 50 MW biomass plant

It has been reported this week that Greenalia had secured a senior loan from the EIB to finance its new biomass plant in Teixeiro. The confirmation of financing follows on from receiving approval to proceed with the project back in February.

Continue reading AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Spain Biomass Plant

AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Mexico Biomass Plant

Inauguration of a 50 MW biomass plant

Towards the end of last month, a new 50 MW biomass-fuelled power plant was inaugurated by Grupo PIASA (part of the Mexican Coca-Cola)  in Oaxaca. The facility will use the sugarcane bagasse that is left over from the milling process as fuel to produce steam. This will be used to supply the mill with electricity.

Continue reading AcuComm’s Daily Full Access Project – Mexico Biomass Plant