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Vattenfall and Viridor partner to harness low carbon heat for UK cities

Low carbon heating provider Vattenfall Heat UK, a subsidiary of Sweden-headed energy utility Vattenfall Group and Viridor Ltd, one of the UK’s biggest recycling and energy recovery companies will work together to capture heat from Viridor’s energy recovery facilities (ERFs) across the UK to develop potential heat off-take projects together.

Viridor’s Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility (ERF), constructed at the waste treatment hub in East Lothian, Scotland became operational in early 2019. The facility is integral to the Scottish Government’s ambitions to deliver a zero-waste, circular economy that encourages waste reduction, boost recycling, and low-carbon energy recovery. On an annual basis, the Dunbar ERF will divert about 300 000 tonnes of post-recycling ‘residual waste’ from landfill and generate 258GWh of base-load low-carbon power to the National Grid. It can also provide up to 10 MW of heat for local use (photo courtesy Viridor).

Viridor has the country’s largest network of 300+ advanced recycling, energy recovery, and landfill diversion facilities providing a full range of services to 150 local authorities and major corporate clients.

These services include recycling and waste advice and auditing, advanced materials recycling, glass, and plastics reprocessing, composting, mechanical and biological treatment, anaerobic digestion, waste to energy, transport, collection, landfill disposal, and habitat restoration and management.

Viridor is a business committed to innovation and investment and recognises that collaborations are the key to helping the UK achieve its resource efficiency goals.  Working together, with like-minded companies such as Vattenfall, will help Viridor to maximise its contribution to a greener recovery, ensuring that we really do Build Back Better, said Tim Rotheray, Viridor’s Director of Innovation and Regulation.

Utilize heat from energy recovery facilities

In total, Viridor manages over 8 million tonnes of recyclables and waste materials for customers from all sectors. It operates a fleet of eleven Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs) nationwide and is continuing to expand its operations in new locations.

These include plants near areas of urban regeneration which present great opportunities for new-build and existing properties to be served by district heating networks in the coming years.

The heat will be captured and then be delivered through pipes developed and operated by Vattenfall to homes and businesses in the area, providing clean, affordable heat. The waste collected from the community will be recycled into clean heat for the same community, creating a local closed-loop energy system.

This announcement underlines Viridor’s commitment to ensuring that all waste becomes a useful resource that contributes to the UK economy. Our ERFs put non-recyclable waste to work within sophisticated combined heat and power plants. We are excited about this new collaboration with Vattenfall which combines two leading businesses in their sector to create meaningful change in towns and cities across the UK, said Richard Pennells, Viridor’s Managing Director of Energy.

Aligns with UK heat policies

According to Vattenfall, this type of collaboration is common in Europe, where Vattenfall already works with ERF owners and operators. The approach being taken by Viridor and Vattenfall also aligns well with the UK Government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government policies that support the roll-out of district heating in urban areas.

The Government’s successful flagship Heat Networks Investment Programme and the proposed Green Heat Networks Fund specifically target collaborations between waste heat sources and heat network operators.

Heat networks are playing a vital role in decarbonising the way we warm our homes and businesses and that’s why the Government has committed £320 million (≈ EUR 360 million) of funding through the Heat Networks Investment Project. The UK continues to lead the way in transitioning to a future with net-zero carbon emissions and I’m delighted to see Vattenfall and Viridor working together to deliver innovative, low carbon heating,  commented Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister of State for Business, Energy, and Clean Growth.

Viridor and Vattenfall believe that heat captured from energy recovery facilities present huge opportunities for local authorities to address fuel poverty, improve energy security and, by reducing reliance on fossil fuels, reduce emissions and improve air quality.

It made perfect sense for one of the market leaders in energy recovery facilities to collaborate with one of the market leaders in delivering clean heat to customers across Europe. This type of cooperation is important to Vattenfall as we build out our business in conjunction with key players in the UK energy landscape. We have a shared vision of serving our communities with clean, efficient, and low-cost services. Together we will be able to really inspire bolder and braver thinking and ultimately faster decarbonisation, said Mike Reynolds, Managing Director at Vattenfall Heat UK.

Large scale heat network projects also have significant local economic benefits, creating jobs through the life of the project from concept and construction through to operation and servicing.

To reach net-zero the UK has to crack the problem of emissions from heat, which currently make up one-third of the UK’s total emissions. Working together with Viridor, we’re looking to bring all the right people and organisations to the table so we can reduce emissions and provide reliable, affordable heating for homes and businesses in cities across the country, ended Noah Nkonge, Head of Partnerships at Vattenfall Heat UK.

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