World's first bio plant for untreated waste set for Cheshire

The world's first biogas plant that can handle unsorted and untreated household waste will be built in Northwich in Cheshire, offshore wind power and oil and gas exploration company DONG energy has announced today (22 February).

Once operational, the biogas plant will treat waste from more than 110,000 UK households

Once operational, the biogas plant will treat waste from more than 110,000 UK households

The bio plant – which will have an annual capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes of waste – will be the first of its kind to handle previously untreated household waste using enzymes.

DONG is financing, constructing and operating the plant, which it believes will be operational by 2017.

The firm's UK chairman Brent Cheshire said: "It's fantastic to see the world's first bio plant of this type being built in Northwich, underlining the UK is once again leading the way in renewable energy. This new plant also highlights our commitment to investing in the Northern Powerhouse."

Once operational, the plant will treat waste from more than 110,000 UK households. UK waste management company FCC Environment – which already collects household waste in the region – will be lead supplier for the facility.

The new technology, called REnescience, processes household waste in reactors using only heat and water. The waste is then mixed with enzymes to create ‘highly efficient’ sorting methods.

DONG Energy has been testing the process at its demonstration plant in Copenhagen since 2009 and now believes it is ready for an operational roll-out. Materials such as plastics and metals are separated to be processed further before being fully recycled, while textiles and foils are incinerated to create heat. REnescience can also alter the levels of incineration to allow for increased recycling rates if necessary.

The bio-liquid that is generated during these steps is then processed to biogas, which is then refined into green gas used for transport fuel and recycling.

"REnescience is a brilliant new technology and generates as many resources as possible from everyday household waste," added Cheshire. "This new bio plant will see us handling waste in a much smarter way."

Whirlwind ventures

DONG Energy recently launched a new scheme that offers commercial customers financial rewards for turning down their consumption or increasing onsite generation when the wind isn't blowing.

The firm has also made in-roads into creating the world’s largest offshore windfarm off the coast of Yorkshire after it made a final investment decision on Hornsea Project One.

Today's announcement comes just days after the Government's Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) kick-started phase two of its collaborative, cross-industry plan to bring greater consistency to household waste and recycling collections in England.

Matt Mace


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