Energy-from-waste generator Enfinium today promised new investment of up to £800 million in carbon capture (CCUS) technology, centred on one of its four UK sites.
Its two generating units at Ferrybridge in west Yorkshire, the location of coal-burning plants closed since 2016, are the firm’s chosen site. With a potential of 90MW for carbon negative power when operating later this decade, the planned plant also has capability on paper to remove over 600,000 tonnes of CO2 every year from the atmosphere.
Carbon savings including over 60,000 tonnes of durable, high-quality removal of the element, are cited by the company as equal to the entire annual carbon footprint of every household in a city the size of Manchester.
The firm cites a finding from the independent Climate Change Committee that around half of unrecyclable waste produced by UK households is made up of content including organic material such as waste food, plants and paper, which has already naturally absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere.
Installing CCS technology at an energy-from-waste plant enables this carbon dioxide to be seized and stored rather than released back into the air, resulting in a net carbon removal from the atmosphere or ‘negative emissions’.
Ferrybridge, near Wakefield, is already Britain’s biggest energy-from-waste site, its twin furnaces currently outputting around 170 MW gross electricity every year. Coal burning on the site ended in spring 2016, as the furnaces were converted to combustion of industrial and household waste.
Upgrading the burners with CCS equipment would transform the plant into one of Europe’s biggest carbon removal facilities. Over 200 jobs including with suppliers and contractors would be supported during development and construction, the company said.
Enfinium says Ferrybridge diverts up to 1.45 million tonnes of unrecyclable waste now from climate-damaging landfill. But on current trends, by 2042 the UK is predicted to be producing around 17 million tonnes of the detritus.
The firm cites evidence from the National Infrastructure Commission, which confirms emissions from EfW plants are lower per tonne of waste compared to landfill.
The generator will be put its proposals forward for grant support under the government’s expansion of its Track-1 cluster sequencing process, due to launch in coming weeks. Planning and consenting for the site will move forward in the new year.
Enfinium CEO Mike Maudsley said: “To deliver a net zero carbon economy, the UK needs to find a way to produce carbon removals, or negative emissions, at scale.
“Installing carbon capture at Ferrybridge would make it one of Europe’s biggest carbon removal projects. All this while we decarbonise unrecyclable waste, diverting it from climate-damaging landfill, and supporting the green economy in West Yorkshire and the wider community.”
Olivia Powis director of UK Director of trade body the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Association, endorsed the plan :
“Enfinium’s planned £800 million investment in CCS at Ferrybridge marks a critical milestone for carbon removal and clean power. For the UK to host one of Europe’s largest carbon removal projects, it demonstrates we are really leading the way in our journey towards a net zero future”.