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Wilton International was selected for a major waste-to-energy investment, but the site offers benefits for businesses across the recycling sector.
Wilton International, on Teesside, is an industrial site with a distinctive business model. Sembcorp Energy UK generates power on site to provide resilient, cost-effective supplies for the businesses located there.
And one of Sembcorp’s major projects in recent years, undertaken in partnership with Suez Waste Management, provides an example of how the site can deliver large-scale, complex industrial developments quickly and efficiently. It also demonstrates how the site’s logistics infrastructure and connectivity can meet the demanding requirements of businesses in the process sector.
An ambitious £250 million investment project
The idea was an ambitious one: to build a facility that would take the household waste of two local authorities, on the other side of the country, and turn it into power for homes and industry. Fortunately, Sembcorp Energy UK, operators of Wilton International, with their investor partners Suez Waste Management and ITOCHU, had the site, expertise and resources necessary to turn the idea into a reality.
The £250 million plant, Wilton 11, takes 440,000 tonnes per annum of household residual waste, from the boroughs of Liverpool and Halton, and produces up to 42MW of electricity, as well as providing steam to on-site customers.1
If it wasn’t used as fuel, this unrecyclable waste material would need to be disposed of at a cost to the ratepayer, and with negative environmental consequences. Instead the material is utilised as a sustainable form of fuel, saving around 127,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, and averting the release of damaging methane gas from landfill decomposition.
Sembcorp sees the waste as an important fuel for the renewable sector and a valuable resource to help displace carbon emissions, while taking the local economy forward.2
Why Wilton International was selected
Teesside, in the North East of England, might not be the obvious place to process household waste from a conurbation in the North West, but it proved to be the most suitable. Thanks to its rare mix of pre-consented land for heavy industry, freight transport connectivity and established site utilities, Wilton International was an exceptionally good fit. For this project, the business case was further enhanced by power demand from on-site businesses and the private wire network’s connection to the National Grid.
The Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA), which had struggled to find a suitable solution closer at hand, selected Wilton International for the 30 year contract to process the waste.
“It’s not just about making electricity,” MWDA’s Carl Beer said. “We needed a site with a heat network, as it’s a lot greener. “Wilton International has similar projects here, a steam network and users all around the site, and it needs the heat and fuel as its power usage is massive. Having it here more than doubles the thermal efficiency of the plant.”3 Those similar projects include Biffa Polymers, whose plastic waste reprocessing facility is boosting the recycled content of the UK’s plastic packaging.
The benefits of rail freight connectivity
Transporting the waste from A to B is achieved using rail, which is more efficient than road and enables the movement of vast quantities in a single journey. Thanks to the presence of fully-equipped terminals at both Merseyside and Wilton International - which has one of the UK’s largest private, on-site rail sidings - the route is direct and the process smooth.
Around 16,000 wheelie-bins’ worth of waste arrives every day at the rail transfer station at Knowsley, Merseyside, which was purpose-built for the project. This is then packed into containers and carried across the country to the rail terminal at Wilton International. Moving the waste by rail delivers further environmental benefits - saving the equivalent of 21,000 HGV journeys per year, and offsetting an estimated 127,000 tonnes of CO2.
A range of waste recycling possibilities
As Wilton International’s energy and utilities provider, Sembcorp Energy UK saw Wilton 11 as a transitional project to recycle waste to energy. However, as waste to products technologies have developed, Wilton International sees the future in attracting other types of waste processing facilities.
“In the UK, there’s a pressing need to recycle more post-consumer waste,’ said Scott Taylor of Sembcorp Energy UK. “Wilton International’s the ideal site for a range of recycling activities including waste to fuels, base oils, feedstocks or other products.”
As one of the UK’s largest integrated sites for process activities, Wilton International’s offer to waste processing businesses is powerful – energy, utilities, land, logistics and project delivery expertise. And as waste recycling continues to move up the agenda, Sembcorp Energy UK intends to establish the site as a key contributor to the UK’s sustainability objectives.