Press Release

Wheelabrator Kemsley enters full commercial operation

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (July 21, 2020) — Wheelabrator Kemsley, a new waste-to-energy facility at Kemsley in Kent, England, enters full commercial operation following a successful commissioning phase throughout early 2020.

Wheelabrator Kemsley is now operational as a combined heat and power facility and will generate up to 49.9 MW (gross) / 44 MW (net) of sustainable, baseload electricity to power U.K. homes and businesses. The facility will process up to 606,000 tons (550,000 tonnes) of non-recyclable waste from across Kent and the South East. The facility is pending planning approval for additional waste capacity and electrical output.

The facility will play a major role in reducing waste sent to landfill or for European export, saving carbon emissions when compared with sending the waste to landfill and making better use of non-recyclable material in the U.K. through the energy recovery process.  It will also provide valuable steam heat – up to 77.4 tons (70 tonnes) per hour – to DS Smith’s adjacent Kemsley Paper Mill, helping to diversify its energy requirements.

Wheelabrator Technologies, the largest pure play waste-to-energy platform and fourth-largest waste-to-energy business in the U.K., will process 2.4 million tons (2.2 million tonnes) of non-recyclable household and commercial waste each year, in turn generating 1.1 net MWh of baseload energy, enough to power around 500,000 U.K. homes and businesses. The portfolio of four strategically located assets includes:

  • Wheelabrator Parc Adfer at Deeside in North Wales, processing 220,000 tons (200,000 tonnes) of non-recyclable waste to generate 19 MW (gross) / 17 MW (net) per year
  • Multifuel Energy Limited Ferrybridge 1 in Yorkshire, processing 799,000 tons (725,000 tonnes) of non-recyclable waste to generate 79 MW (gross) / 72 MW (net) per year (under a joint venture with SSE).
  • Multifuel Energy Limited Ferrybridge 2 – also in Yorkshire, processing 755,000 tons (675,000 tonnes) of non-recyclable waste to generate 79 MW (gross) / 72 MW (net) per year (under a joint venture with SSE).

Wheelabrator Kemsley was built by EPC contractor CNIM, and in the four years of construction more than 800 jobs were created, including 46 full-time operational roles, and significant inward investment across the region was generated as a result of construction.  With a strong focus on safety, there have been more than four million man hours without a single lost-time incident and commissioning during early 2020 was completed carefully in line with U.K. Government COVID-19 safety and social distancing guidance.

Robert Boucher, President and CEO at Wheelabrator Technologies, said: “To be able to complete construction, hot commissioning, grid synchronization and steam export to DS Smith during the COVID-19 pandemic is a fantastic accomplishment and a testament to the commitment of our team and our partners to work safely and Make a Difference. Takeover at Kemsley is the result of many years of commitment, hard work and strong partnerships with DS Smith, our customers and the communities we operate within.”

Colin McIntyre, CEO of DS Smith’s Paper and Recycling divisions said:

“Harvesting steam from Wheelabrator Technologies facility for our paper mill at Kemsley is a key part of our energy strategy. As the largest mill for recycled paper in the U.K., processing almost 1.1 million tons (1 million tonnes) of paper for recycling a year, achieving the right energy mix is vital. With the facility fully operationally, it will supply us with a third of the steam required to run our paper making operations.

“We are delighted with our strategic energy partnership with Wheelabrator, a partnership which enables a carbon reduction of 86,000 tons (78,000 tonnes) per year and contributes to one of our nine ambitious long-term sustainability targets – to reduce our CO2e emissions by 30 per cent per tonne of production by 2030.”

While Wheelabrator Kemsley is now in full commercial operation, a Development Consent Order (DCO) application was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in 2019 to upgrade the energy output the facility and increase the waste throughput. If granted, the DCO approval would allow Wheelabrator to increase the output of the facility up to 75 MW (gross) / 66 MW (net) and process up to 724,000 tons (657,000 tonnes). A decision on the application is expected in Q1 2021.

Wheelabrator’s DCO application also contains plans for Wheelabrator Kemsley North, which is a proposed waste-to-energy facility which would be located on land immediately adjacent to Wheelabrator Kemsley. Wheelabrator Kemsley North would be a new single line waste-to-energy facility capable of generating up to 42 MW (gross) / 37 MW (net) of renewable baseload energy by processing up to 430,000 tons (390,000 tonnes) of non-recyclable waste each year. Together, both Kemsley facilities would generate enough energy to power more than 240,000 U.K. homes and businesses.

The company also has a further series of advanced waste-to-energy projects in development in the U.K. including:

  • Wheelabrator Kelvin, a 441,000-ton (400,000 tonnes) facility in West Bromwich; and
  • Multifuel Skelton Grange, a 450,000-ton (410,000 tonnes) facility in Yorkshire, which will be developed with SSE as part of the Multifuel Energy Limited 2 (MEL 2) joint venture.

All three facilities are expected to commence construction in 2021.