What is the Energy from Waste process?
The Runcorn facility is an Energy from Waste (EfW) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility. It is designed to receive Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) produced from non-recyclable
wastes arising from local authority and local business customers.
Fuel for the facility is delivered by road in covered HGVs, or by rail in sealed containers on freight trains. HGVs enter and leave the facility across a weighbridge that allows us to measure the vehicle weight on arrival and departure. Freight trains carrying fuel arrive at a dedicated railhead that was installed as part of the development adjacent to existing rail tracks.
Following arrival at the facility Refuse Derived Fuel or RDF (see Where does the fuel for the facility come from?) is transported to the reception hall located in the main building using the HGV it is delivered in or, in the case of freight deliveries, by unloading the containers onto smaller vehicles for transportation. Vehicles in the reception hall then unload the fuel into one of a number of chutes that lead to the main fuel bunker.
RDF from the bunker is fed into one of four combustion chambers and heated at very high temperatures (850oC). This process is carried out under closely controlled and strictly monitored conditions. The heat this process produces is captured within the facility and in turn used to create steam, which drives turbines to produce electricity.
The facility incorporates a variety of technologies used to treat waste gases from the combustion chamber. These include: hydrated lime injection to reduce the emission of acidic components such as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride; activated carbon injection to adsorb TOCs (total organic carbons), heavy metals and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and; a bag filtration system, in which bag filters are used to capture the lime, carbon and particulate matter.
The chimney stack is also fitted with its own emissions monitoring system. This system monitors the emissions coming out of the facility stack on a continuous basis, with reports produced every half hour and on a daily basis. These reports are provided to the Environment Agency for effective monitoring of our Environmental Permit.
Why was the facility needed?
After reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible, energy from waste plants can provide the infrastructure we need to efficiently recover energy from the residual, left over, waste; meaning landfill will become the absolute last resort. Under the EU Landfill Directive, which became law in the UK in 2003, all local authorities across the UK have been set targets by central government to reduce the amount of waste that they send to landfill. Responsible businesses are also following suit. Energy from waste in all its forms already
accounts for >1.5% of the UK's electricity supply. By 2020 it could account for 6% of total UK electricity, making a significant contribution to our energy security. There are over 400 such plants operating across Europe, where this technology is more common. In Switzerland, for example, almost 50% of household waste is used for energy generation through similar facilities, compared to Britain where less than 10% of waste is currently used inthis way. The Runcorn facility will contribute towards reducing the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels, improving sustainability and achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn will reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.
Where does the fuel for the facility come from?
Fuel for the facility (known as RDF) comes from non-recyclable wastes arising from local authority and local business customers, diverting it away from landfill. Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) is produced following pre-treatment process such as Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) or sorting and shredding.
How is fuel delivered to the facility and when is it delivered?
The RDF is transported to the facility by road or by rail. HGV movements in and out of the facility typically take place between 7am and 11pm, Monday to Saturday. The facility is permitted to accept deliveries 24 hours a day, seven days a week but we aim to avoid HGV activity overnight and on Sundays to allow for routine maintenance to be carried out.
A routing agreement ensures all HGV traffic to and from the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility is routed to the north of the facility (junction with Weston Point Expressway), for the benefit of the closest residential properties to the south (e.g. Sandy Lane). This means that HGVs are restricted from taking a right turn heading out of the facility on Picow Farm Road (or a left turn going in). Train movements taken place seven days a week, where possible between 7am and 11pm. If a train arrives after 11pm, no unloading takes place until 7am the following morning.
Why was the Runcorn site chosen?
The primary purpose of the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility is to provide heat and power to the INOVYN Runcorn site to support its existing operations. As such, there was a requirement to find a site near enough and large enough to fulfil this requirement. The site on Barlow Way, off Picow Farm Road, was the only site which met these needs.
The site was a previously developed plot of land, and is located in close proximity to the INOVYN chemicals manufacturing site. This will help the facility to operate efficiently, which would not be the case if it were necessary to transport the steam or power produced over extended distances.
The site is also well positioned to the local transport network and has good links to a range of transport modes including rail, road and water.
How safe is the facility and will there be any health risks?
A recently published UK Health Protection Agency report stated that 'modern, well-managed incinerators make only a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants' and that ‘any potential health impacts, if they exist, are likely to be very small and not detectable.'  The facility has been issued with an Environmental Permit in order to operate. Compliance with the conditions of the Permit will be monitored by the Environment Agency and this will ensure compliance with the requirements of all necessary standards protecting health and the environment.
 Health Protection Agency Position Statement (September 2009) “The impact on health of emissions to air from municipal waste incinerators”http://www.hpa.org.uk/ProductsServices/ChemicalsPoisons/IntegratedPollutionPreventionControlIPPC/ippcIncineration
What remains after the combustion process? How are waste products removed?
The combustion process produces two types of waste product: Air Pollution Control residue (APCr) and Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA). IBA may contain small amounts of recyclable ferrous and non-ferrous metals which are removed for recycling. Both remaining residues are taken off-site and currently disposed of at specially licenced facilities. The APCr residues are taken to the Bishops Cleeve landfill site in Gloucestershire, operated by Grundon Waste Management. The IBA is currently taken to Ballast Phoenix Limited where it is processed to create aggregate for use in many construction appications. Owing to its classification as a hazardous substance (due to its alkalinity, as lime is used in the pollution control process), the APCr residue leaves the facility in sealed powder tankers. The IBA leaves the facility in HGVs with a fine mesh cover. This ash is compacted and discharged from the EfW facility through a water quench, and remains very wet throughout transportation. These measures ensure that the ash transported off site is safely contained throughout transportation to recycling or landfill.
How much energy will the facility generate?
The Runcorn facility will be capable of generating up to 70MW of electricity and up to 51MW of heat. By using RDF to generate heat and power, INOVYN will require around 20% less energy from the National Grid. The INOVYN manufacturing process is inherently energy intensive. The manufacturing process at the Runcorn site alone uses almost 1% of the total electricity supplied by the national grid across the UK. Most of this energy is currently generated from natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel that is increasingly imported into the UK. In order for the INOVYN plant to continue to operate in a sustainable way, there needs to be security and diversification of the energy supply and energy costs need to be reduced. The EfW facility has been designed specifically to support this by generating heat and power from refuse derived fuel; a largely renewable and lower cost fuel source than gas. It is a fully integrated CHP facility and a best practice local example of carbon reduction, efficient renewable power generation and heat utilisation. The CHP element will provide a direct supply of steam for the industrial process. This will result in a very efficient means of generating energy from waste, and maximises the benefit for the industry.
How many jobs has the facility created during construction and how many permanent positions will there be?
The Runcorn Energy from Waste Facility will deliver a significant local investment. At the peak of construction, over 1,100 people were employed at the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility. The facility provides a significant number of jobs on-site – 75 direct and a further 14 permenant. The facility also has at least 64 local businesses on its supply chain, ranging from engineering to cleaning services.
Visit our careers pages for more information.
How will the local community benefit from the facility?
Under the existing consent, every tonne of RDF used by the facility will generate money for an Environmental Fund. This arrangement will continue for the lifetime of the facility. The Fund will be fully managed by Halton Borough Council to ‘fund environmental matters as may be specified from time to time ... for the benefit of its residents generally and which may include measures to improve public transport, highway network improvements, travel plan monitoring, waste recycling and wider community improvements such as landscaping and nature conservation measures.’
Assuming full operation, the facility would generate at least £500,000 a year for use by Halton Borough Council for the benefit of its residents.
Viridor, the operator of the facility, has an open door policy at its sites. Whenever possible, site managers are happy to accommodate educational visits from schools, colleges and other groups at our sites.
Viridor has sponsored an exhibition at the Catalyst museum to explain the energy from waste process and is exploring options for providing education visits or resources, which would promote understanding of waste prevention, recycling, recovery and resource management.
In addition, the facility will generate around 80 new local jobs and also indirectly support many other local jobs in supporting businesses and allied industries.
How will the local community be kept up to date?
The local community will continue to be kept up to date via the existing local liaison forum (LLF), established by Halton Borough Council, as well as through this website.
What lighting is required at the facility?
Lights at the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility have been installed in full accordance with the planning consent granted for the facility. The facility operates 24/7 therefore lighting is required to ensure a safe working environment. In response to feedback from local residents, we have visited specific locations near to the site and found that there is not sufficient direct light coming from the facility to cause a night time disturbance. The team have also visited a number of off-site locations to take lux (luminous light) readings. These readings do not suggest that light in the local area in relation to the facility is particularly bright. In response to feedback, the floodlights on-site have also been adjusted, and now point further downwards to ensure this light is kept within the site boundary.
Runcorn Energy from Waste has looked into the possibility of using PIR (motion sensor) and other options for the stairwell lights, and have adjusted lights where possible in a number of locations.
What is in the steam that comes out of the facility?
The steam that comes out of the cooling towers of the facility is pure condensed water and does not contain any pollutants. This has been confirmed by the Environment Agency. The water used in this process is purified, meaning that the steam produced is cleaner than the steam that comes out of an ordinary household kettle.
During operation, steam is continuously released from the main stack, as part of the controlled and monitored process emissions. The steam will be visible only under certain weather conditions.
What are you doing to avoid noise being heard from the facility?
As an industrial operation, it is to be expected that noises coming from the Runcorn Energy from Waste facility will be heard from time to time by local residents. We do, however, make every attempt to keep noise to a minimum. The facility is also governed by strict planning conditions to ensure that people are not unduly disturbed.
In response to comments from some local residents, we have reduced the volume of the horns on the trains and cranes that are used to unload RDF. The use of horns is a safety requirement in accordance with national rail safety standards. In response to the feedback received, we are looking at alternative warning methods; however the safety of people working on the rail network and on-site has to be our primary concern.
What are you doing to avoid odour off-site?
An Odour Management Plan is in place as part of the Environmental Permit, this operates on a day to day basis and covers a number of odour control measures.
The reception hall for the fuel is kept under negative pressure, which is designed to keep any potential odour within the building. It means that as a door is opened air is sucked in to the building rather than being released externally. Fixed de-odourisers are also used where required throughout the facility, these neutralise rather than mask potentially odours particles and sink them to the ground to reduce dispersal.