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Landmark London energy park gets greenlight

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

he government has given the greenlight to the Riverside Energy Park in Bexley, which will generate a total of 96MW from an energy recovery facility, anaerobic digestion, solar panels and waste to energy facilities in its bid to enable net zero.

Cory Riverside Energy (CRE), which is developing the site, estimated the park would generate enough renewable electricity to power 140,000 homes in total, and could start producing energy in as early as 2024.

Energy minister Alok Sharma said there is “a compelling case for granting development consent” to the large-scale project, after he considered a report published by the Examining Authority (ExA) in January.

The report had assessed the proposals for the site with a focus on the air quality, economic and social impacts, the transport and traffic impacts, and the potential noise which may come from the site. Sharma published the ruling alongside the examining authority report, which recommended that the development go ahead.

Sharma said: “Given the national need for the Development, as set out in the relevant National Policy Statements referred to above, the Secretary of State does not believe that this is outweighed by the Development’s potential adverse impacts, as mitigated by the proposed terms of the Order”.

The centre will comprise of:

  • An Energy Recovery Facility which will process more than 800,000t of non-recyclable waste to create 76MW of electricity, with a residue of recyclable ash.

  • An Anaerobic Digestion Facility, which will produce natural gas from 40t of green waste every year.

  • Solar voltaic panels which could generate around 1MW every year.

  • A battery storage with a capacity of 20MW in total.

He said he had taken concerns over carbon emissions into account, but that he had also considered the carbon equivalent benefit to diverting waste from landfill. The waste to energy site, which will only use non-recyclable waste, will produce 800,000t of energy in total.

The infrastructure plan further fitted the “national need for development of new nationally significant electricity generating infrastructure”, Sharma wrote, after some parties had argued the development would just disincentivise waste prevention in the capital.

MP for Dagenham & Rainham Jon Cruddas had submitted a petition to the government in January outlining concerns over biodiversity and human health, with support from the MP for Erith & Thamesmead Teresa Pearce. The Greenwich-Bexley Environment Alliance put forward a second petition in March concerning the creation of a second incinerator in the borough.

CRE first announced it would work with specialist energy from waste (EfW) contractor Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) on the project in January 2018. The renewable energy partnership has suggested construction work could begin on the project in 2021, and could contribute to the UK government's pledge to reach net zero by 2050.

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