Does Dundee need a new Energy-From-Waste plant?

FoE Tayside is currently considering whether and how to respond to a planning application for a new waste incinerator at Baldovie in Dundee (described in more detail below).  In this case, the incinerator would supply heat and power, and could therefore be classified as a supplier of renewable energy.  It would also be designed to deal primarily with residual household waste, after the removal of items which can be recycled.  It would be located adjacent to the existing DERL energy-from-waste incinerator, which would be closed down.

At the same time, the Scottish Government is promoting its Zero Waste Scotland strategy, and developing a complementary strategy on a Circular Economy.  These could lead to overall reductions in the volumes of waste from households, and an increase in the proportion of items that can be recycled.  However, the actual volumes that are recycled depend very much on the behaviour of householders and the effectiveness of the collection system operated by the local authorities.

All local authorities have only a few years to ensure that biodegradable waste is removed from the waste stream going to landfill, and there are several other similar residual waste incinerator projects proposed around Scotland.  Previously, some “refuse derived fuel” has been shipped to energy-from-waste plants in continental Europe, where there is surplus capacity.

Therefore, there are multiple issues here to be considered, in deciding whether to support or oppose the proposed development.

The FoET group meeting on 18 January 2017, at 7 pm, at the University of Dundee Chaplaincy, will concentrate on this topic so that the group can make any representations to the Planning Authority by 27 January.  Anyone with a keen interest in the subject should contact FoET with their views and questions.

Additional details

Plans for a new Energy-from-Waste, Combined Heat and Power plant were lodged with Dundee City Council at the end of December 2016 by German company MVV.  The developer proposes to take over the running of the existing waste-to-energy incinerator from DERL, a company run by the Council. This would cease to operate once the new £100m plant is completed.  The intention is that the heat produced by the plant would be fed through to the nearby Michelin factory, for the processing of rubber.  Heat could also be made available to nearby businesses and houses, if additional investment is made in a heat supply network.  Alternatively, this energy would be converted to electricity to supply to the national grid.

MVV has emerged as the only company still active in responding to an invitation to tender from Dundee City and Angus Councils, to build and operate an energy from waste plant to treat 60-90,000 tonnes of residual municipal waste per year.  This will ensure that residual waste is diverted from landfill and used to create energy.  The technology which MVV proposes is more advanced and efficient than the technology used in the existing plant, which had to be closed down for a lengthy period for refurbishment following a fire, and still presents maintenance problems.

The company has stated that it will work with the Council to review performance and improve levels of recycling by the public, if necessary, once the plant is operational.  It will seek additional supplies of waste from other local authorities, and commercial and industrial customers, to operate the plant as close to capacity as possible.

The application does not include plans to provide a heat supply network for businesses and homes, beyond the supply of heat to Michelin.  This would require significant additional investment, and would probably have to be taken forward by a separate company, in which MVV and Dundee City Council could be involved.

11 January 2017