David talks about his visit to Greatmoor Energy plant

"I spent part of a recent constituency Friday learning more about rubbish!

"Everyone in Aylesbury knows that their bins are emptied by AVDC. But what happens next? It used to go to landfill, but in the last two years that's all changed, with the opening of the Greatmoor Energy from Waste (EfW) plant at Woodham.

"Visiting Greatmoor was an eye-opener. From the outside, it’s clearly a large industrial plant. When you walk round, you quickly see that the operator, FCC Environment (which has the contract from Bucks County Council), is using modern technology. The staff I met were sitting at computer screens, not shovelling ash, and I learned that the company looks for employees with experience of boilers and thermal engineering. A fair number of their recruits come from the Royal Navy.

"Our waste travels to Greatmoor by lorry and is tipped from ground level into a 23 metre deep bunker. Staff inside an air-conditioned control room move it by crane to a grate where it burns for two hours.

"The residue, once cooled, is sorted using a giant magnet to recover metals for recycling. Ash is used for construction materials.  But the real prize is the generation of electricity that’s sold to the National Grid: 22 megawatts, enough to power 36,000 homes.

"Laws on pollution control are strict and the plant uses up-to-date filtering technology. Emissions from the chimney stack are constantly monitored (those computer screens again) and what comes out is 99.9% water vapour.

"We still as a society produce a lot of non-recyclable waste. Converting that waste (300,000 tonnes a year at Greatmoor) into clean energy seems to me a sensible way to dispose of it - certainly better than landfill.

"Scandinavian countries make a lot of use of EfW plants.  They locate them close to towns, with EfW not only generating electricity but heat for homes and offices. Perhaps an idea for any future new settlement in Bucks?"

 

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