Wealden Works


What is Energy from Waste?

Energy from waste (EfW) facilities treat household, commercial and industrial (business) waste that cannot be prevented, recycled or composted.

EfW facilities then use this waste to generate energy which can be in the form of steam, electricity or hot water. The electricity is fed into the local electricity distribution system - in the case of the 3Rs facility this will be through UK Power Networks - before being distributed to the end-users such as homes and businesses. 

The 3Rs facility will have the ability to produce steam and electricity simultaneously. Once a pipework distribution network is established, steam can be sent through the network to heat (or cool) homes, schools, hospitals, offices etc., as well as being used by the nearby industry in their production processes.

EfW is a hygienic and proven method of treating non-recyclable waste, that will otherwise end up being landfilled. It will also reduce the volume of that waste by about 90%.

Modern EfW plants are clean and safe. They must meet strict emission limits - now placed on all industries - which are set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive and regulated by the Environment Agency in England and Wales.

The benefits of the 3Rs facility and Energy from Waste

Energy-from-Waste (EfW) facilities provide a safe, technologically advanced means of waste disposal that reduces greenhouse gases, generates clean energy and recovers metals.

EfW is widely recognized as a technology that can help mitigate climate change and is essential if we are to move towards a circular economy. This is because the waste combusted at an EfW facility doesn’t generate methane, as it would at a landfill; the metals that would have been sent to the landfill are recovered for recycling instead of being buried; the ash produced is also recycled; and the electricity generated offsets the greenhouse gases that would otherwise have been generated from coal and natural gas plants. 

Within a circular economy, where the recovery of waste is maximized and re-used to produce new products, EfW removes from the system the dross which otherwise will just build up.

Additionally, the energy produced at energy from waste facilities is reliable baseload power, meaning that it is generated 24 hours a day, seven days a week - unlike solar and wind energy. That provides the opportunity to not only sell electricity onto the grid, but also provide steam delivered to houses, public buildings and industry.

Additionally, EfW facilities provide the following benefits:

- Reduces electricity generated from fossil fuel sources, helping the UK with its long-term energy security priorities.
- Recycles and reuses metals and other materials in the form of ash, which can be used by the construction sector.
- The opportunity to supply heat and steam to nearby homes and businesses.
- Local job creation and supply chain opportunities in the construction and operational phases.
- Construction jobs on the 3Rs facility will peak of circa 300 operatives.
- Up to 35 additional new full-time operational jobs.
- Operational facilities provide significant tax revenues for local authorities through business rates.
- Reduction in Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) pollution and climate change impacts.
- Architectural design in keeping with the current industrial location.
- Additional environmental features such as rainwater harvesting on the 3Rs facility.
- Inward capital investment regenerating this historic Wealden Works industrial site.
- No additional tonnages of residual waste or an increase in HGVs numbers to the proposed site.
- Modern EfW plants are clean and safe. They must meet strict emission limits - now placed on all industries - which are set out in the Industrial Emissions Directive and regulated by the Environment Agency in England and Wales.

How does Energy from Waste Work

After the sorting and materials recovery process, the remaining waste will be deposited in a bunker. A crane will grab the waste and place it into a feed hopper where it will pass down into the combustion chamber. The action of the grate will turn the waste to allow it to burn fully. The resulting ash will then have metals extracted for recycling before itself being recycled for use as an aggregate substitute - principally in road construction.

Hot gases produced in the combustion process will pass through a water-tube boiler, where they will be cooled. The heated water then becomes steam. A turbo-generator will use the steam to produce electricity and potentially heat for export from the site. 

The gases from the boiler will then be cleaned to meet stringent environmental regulations using lime to neutralize acid gases, urea or ammonia to reduce NOx, activated carbon to remove other pollutants and then a filter to remove particulates and dusts. A small amount of residue (less than 4% by weight) will be collected from this cleaning process and exported from site in sealed containers to a suitably licensed disposal facility. The remaining cleaned gases will be finally released to atmosphere through the stack.

Further information on how Energy from Waste facility work is available here (Source: CEWEP).