Energy from waste plants scrapped

Two waste to energy plants have been scrapped in Teesside putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

Air Products temporarily halted work on the Tees Valley energy-from-waste project in November, resulting in 700 construction workers being laid off. Now the firm has opted to pull out of the development completely, blaming technical problems and rising costs and has scrapped. plans for the second phase of a renewable energy plant. 

The site, at Port Clarence, near Hartlepool, still employs more than 150 office staff and contractors.

Air Products’ has said the projects at will cost too much to build and is looking to sell up, reporting losses of up to £770m. The 

US-based Air Products had said the plant would generate energy for about 100,000 homes by burning domestic and commercial waste which would otherwise have been sent to landfill.Rather than traditional burning waste to fuel technology the plants use a pioneering technology. Waste is fed into an enclosed gasifier and combusted at a very high temperature using plasmas. Emissions are reduced due to the high temperature used in the process. 

The Air Products facility would have been one of the first advanced gasification plants of this size in the UK, using technology already used in other countries and  claimed to be proven as an efficient and environmentally friendly way of  producing energy from waste.

Meanwhile, Air Products chief executive Seifi Ghasemi said the firm “pushed very hard” to make the technology work and he “certainly understood” the disappointment of staff.

The company said  “design and operational challenges” with the Teesside plants would require “significant time and cost” to put right and the firm planned to exit from its Energy-from-Waste (EfW) business altogether.

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, described the news as "another blow for the Teesside economy".

He said: "The news that Air Products is to write off its Teesside energy-from-waste development is the latest part of the crisis that is sweeping the UK's industrial sector.

"I will be seeking assurances from Air Products that they are looking to find a sustainable, long-term buyer who can continue with this project and that they are not just looking to scrap the whole plant, which is nearly complete."

Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham added: "This is yet more devastating news for Teesside coming on the tail of thousands of other lost jobs in the area in steel, construction, metal and related industries in recent months.