Ambitions to Heat Homes by Burning Rubbish at New Waste-to-Energy Plant

New waste-to-energy plant has ambitions of heating homes in Walsall and is set to create up to 500 jobs.

Homes in Walsall could be powered by rubbish treated at a new waste energy plant set to be built following an offer of support from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The Walsall Energy From Waste facility, located at Fryers Road, has ambitions to partner up with the WMCA and local councils to help export heat to homes in the form of steam or hot water.

Up to 450 jobs will be contracted during the construction phase of the plant and 50 direct jobs once it is fully operational. The target for completion is 2027.

Rubbish collected to power the plant will come from a range of local and regional waste management companies.

The facility itself will replace the region’s ageing fleet of incinerators, which are due to be retired over the coming years.

The plant will be built by energy recovery specialists Encyclis on eight acres of derelict land.

The WMCA had originally stepped in with the offer of a £7.5 million investment to help get the project off the ground, but the financial support was not needed after all.

Encyclis CEO Owen Michaelson has, however, written a letter of appreciation to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, thanking them for making the financial support available.

The offer had been made by the WMCA as part of its ‘brownfield first’ programme which is regenerating the region’s derelict industrial sites for thousands of new homes and modern, commercial work spaces.

Mr Street said: “This important initiative will power homes here in Walsall at the same time as helping us to maintain our #WM2041 net zero commitment.

"The Fryers Road site being brought forward by Encyclis is an innovative example of how we can turn waste into energy. This plant underlines our burgeoning practical environmental credentials.

"Whether we're retrofitting homes to ensure they're more energy efficient, cutting energy bills for local businesses or making our transport network more sustainable, the West Midlands is leading the way when it comes to the Green Industrial Revolution.

“It's great news that this scheme is set to create more than 400 local jobs and I look forward to seeing residents benefit from projects like this in the months and years ahead."

Energy-from-Waste (EfW) takes non-hazardous waste, otherwise destined for landfill, and combusts it, generating steam for electricity production.

The ash is processed to recover metal for recycling while all gases are collected, filtered and cleaned to minimize environmental impact.

The ash itself is used as a material in the construction industry.

EfW is one of the only forms of energy generation shown to reduce greenhouse gases.

This is due to avoiding methane from landfills, offsetting emissions from fossil fuel production, and recovering metals for recycling.

The plant’s developer, Encyclis, will build, own, and operate the start-of-the-art facility and use the latest technology to turn up to 436,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste every year into 49 megawatts of electricity.

The Walsall plant is seen by Encyclis as an “important addition” to the company’s growing fleet of facilities in the UK and Ireland.

Owen Michaelson, chief executive of Encyclis, said: “We thank West Midlands Combined Authority for supporting this project, which was crucial in enabling us to begin preparatory groundworks to transform this brownfield site.

“We are making this investment to provide Walsall and surrounding communities with a state-of-the-art public hygiene facility that will treat the area’s residual waste, generate baseload electricity and open up opportunities for sustainable district heating.

“In doing so, our Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) will directly contribute to economic regeneration, creating skilled jobs and encouraging green innovation.”

Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council, said: “Not only will this new development bring clean power to our community but it will also generate employment opportunities within the borough, creating over 50 permanent jobs once complete.

“The new development at Fryers Road adds to Walsall’s exciting regeneration portfolio which is currently underway.

"As a borough, through substantial inward investment and grant funding, we are seeing an investment of £1.5 billion which aims to generate over 4000 employment opportunities and create 1,000 new homes.”

Access to the WMCA funding was provided by the property team at Frontier Development Capital Ltd (FDC). FDC continues to work closely with property developers to arrange investments from the WMCA's Commercial Investment Fund (CIF) and Residential Investment Fund (RIF).

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