Waste-to-energy plants; helping power a more sustainable world
August 17, 2020

David Mills

PSC is proud to offer Wheelabrator Technologies (WTI) our Owner’s Engineer specialist support services as they develop and commission new waste-to-energy facilities in the UK.


WTI is a developer, owner and operator of 25 waste facilities across the US and UK, of which 19 are waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities, including three under construction in the UK. Their UK facilities will process 2.4 million tons (2.2 million tonnes) of non-recyclable household and commercial waste each year, enough to power around 500,000 UK homes and businesses. [i]

In July 2020, Wheelabrator Kemsley, a new WTE facility at Kemsley in Kent, England, entered full commercial operation following a successful commissioning phase throughout early 2020. This facility is now operational as a combined heat and power facility and will generate up to 49.9 MW (gross)/44 MW (net) sustainable baseload electricity to power UK homes and businesses.[ii]

Earlier in the year, another WTI facility, Wheelabrator Parc Adfer, also entered full commercial operation. This is a combined heat and power energy recovery facility in Flintshire in north-east Wales producing 19 MW (gross) of electrical power and has the capability of providing valuable steam or heat to local industry and housing.[iii]

PSC’s specialty: grid connection and compliance

During the development of the Kemsley facility, PSC’s team of specialist engineers supported the project from concept, through design and construction to becoming an operational facility.  This included providing specialist advice on all aspects of the site’s electrical system and 132 kV grid connection to meet with WTI’s operational, safety and grid code requirements. Read more about this project here.

During the development of the Parc Adfer facility, WTI requested PSC to support discussions with the Distribution Network Operator (SP Energy Networks) to ensure all requirements were met. PSC’s team provided support across a range of areas relating to the 33 and 11 kV substations and major electrical infrastructure.  Additionally, this site was required to operate with a flexible connection due to constraints on the upstream distribution network. Due to its extensive distribution and transmission system knowledge, PSC was well equipped to explain the technical requirements clearly and ensure the successful grid synchronization. Read more about this project here.

In order for WTI to do business as a renewable energy producer under Great Britain’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme, they must confirm that a portion of the electricity comes from renewable sources[iv]. PSC provided WTI necessary technical support on both these projects to register the generators as renewable energy producers and gave guidance for ongoing requirements including submission of meter reading and fuel sampling analysis to maintain the renewable status of their facilities.

PSC added advantage: project continuity

As in any project of this scope, many parties are involved over a relatively long project timeline. While other participating entities dealt with changes in staffing and responsibilities, PSC provided consistent support via a single unchanging point of contact throughout all phases of the project, from concept and design to building and commissioning, and beyond. Having a single source of knowledge and history for ongoing discussions is of great client value to ensure their project progresses smoothly within agreed upon timescale.

The full grid code commissioning and operational handover for the Kemsley project occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown. Fortunately, PSC was able to quickly pivot to fully remote support while travel restrictions were in place, allowing for the project to progress relatively uninterrupted.

Note: PSC is providing WTI on-going specialist engineering support on both projects as the sites become fully operational as well as supporting other WTI projects still in development.

More about waste-to-energy plants

A WTE plant is a waste management facility that burns municipal waste to produce electricity. Modern plants provide a safe, technologically advanced means of waste disposal that is becoming recognized as a technology to mitigate climate change because WTE plants don’t produce methane, as the waste would do in a landfill.

Besides sustainably managing waste, WTE plants provide other benefits, such as gate fees (the fee per ton paid by the municipality to the facility for receiving the waste), the electricity and/or co‑generated heat that is produced, the value of scrap metal collected, and potentially, carbon credits for renewable energy. Because its fuel source is sustainable, WTE is considered a renewable technology.[v]

To see how WTE plants work, view WTI’s process animation here.

Please get in touch to find out more about how PSC’s specialists can help with your energy-related project.

[i] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wheelabrator-kemsley-enters-full-commercial-operation-301096975.html?tc=eml_cleartime

[ii] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wheelabrator-kemsley-enters-full-commercial-operation-301096975.html?tc=eml_cleartime

[iii] https://www.wtienergy.co.uk/plant-locations/development/wheelabrator-parc-adfer-north-wales

[iv] https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/rego/about-rego-scheme

[v] https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2016/10/18/putting-garbage-to-good-use-with-waste-to-energy/