Thursday, 21 March 2013

Viridor phoney plan to heat homes

Headlines in  the Echo today are misleading..this is a PR stunt to get community support and shore up other applications elsewhere. The story goes..
"Incinerator to heat Cardiff homes and offices under ambitious new plan"

Using the heat from waste incineration is an essential part of the energy recovery process and as a result the Government has specifically excluded waste plants that do not use Combined Heat and Power systems from its Renewable Energy classification.

 The document entitled ‘heat plan’ submitted by Viridor makes no firm plans for heat utilisation and describes an inadequate attempt to identify and recruit heat customers. Their undertaking a single cold call letter is inadequate.

 Viridor’s so-called heat plan implies that CHP is being or will be delivered at both this and other of their incineration plants. However they have no heat customers for this proposed incinerator.

The plant is the wrong design for supplying heat, with demand varying through the day and far higher demand winter than summer.  It's designed for 24/7 burning, year-round.  But the map shows no steady industrial heat demand, just possible users of offices etc. whose heat demand is very seasonal. 

Viridor have a poor track-record of lining-up heat customers for their plants. They have planning permission for one plant in Exeter, with no heat customer – despite being located on/adjacent to an industrial estate. Their plant in Slough is under construction, with no intention to supply heat at the outset. The Derriford Hospital incinerator referred to in their ‘heat plan’ is not comparable to the current application being a small clinical incinerator recieing waste from and returning heat to the hospital. (Derriford is also in Plymouth not Exeter as stated in the document!)

 A reading of Viridor’s applications across the UK show that these descriptions of how they ‘could’ supply heat in Exeter and Slough are repeatedly used to bolster their applications, yet they have failed to sign up a customer in all the time they have been planning these proposals.

It is notable that in November 2009 when they submitted this application they were saying in regard to the Exeter incinerator that “discussions with … potential users are to be held”. Their application to East Lothian Council in May 2008 also used the Exeter example. This would seem to be somewhat disingenuous that the are always about to talk to users and certainly if that is their track record it is clearly not successful in gaining heat customers. More detailed and thorough work is required on this ‘plan’ before the application can be determined.

There is a poor history of retro-fitting CHP to EfW incinerators. Incinerator operators will say in applications that heat delivery is possible, but in practice, it is rarely delivered. It is worth noting the SELCHP – South East London CHP was built under just these circumstances and they have never secured a heat customer despite being in a very built up area of London.

Viridor are still facing a legal challenge from CATI. 


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