Viridor announces acceleration of deep decarbonisation of the waste sector

Viridor, one of the UK’s leading recycling, resources and waste management companies, and majority owned by KKR, have announced plans to help the UK accelerate its decarbonisation agenda through an international partnership for next-generation carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS). The plan could unleash up to £1bn private investment into the UK.

To support the delivery of CCUS, modular CCUS plants would be installed on five Viridor energy-from-waste (EfW) sites across the UK. Viridor has partnered with pure-play CCUS specialist Aker Carbon Capture for the delivery of five modular plants. Aker Carbon Capture’s plug-and-play CCUS solutions are based on the company’s proprietary and HSE-friendly carbon capture technology, which it has developed over the past 20 years.

The modular carbon capture plants will allow the technology to be deployed within fifteen months of planning and permitting, reducing fossil emissions at these sites by up to 90%. Developing the modular CCUS plants on the five EfW sites combined with two planned bespoke CCUS plants, would deliver c.1.5 MT COsavings a year, meeting 15% of the Government’s 2030 emissions reduction target. This investment would also create around 1,000 construction jobs and up to 180 skilled green jobs in Scotland, Wales and the English regions.

This builds on Viridor’s existing plan to develop a c. 0.9m tonne carbon capture plant at the EfW site in Runcorn, Cheshire, as part of the HyNet industrial CCUS cluster in the north-west of the UK. Independent analysis published in October 2021 indicates that the 15 EfW sites within 20 miles of the UK’s 5 industrial CCUS clusters could capture and permanently store just under 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030. The research also suggests that CCUS on EfW facilities could be lower cost in absolute terms than any other industrial sector.

This announcement is the latest phase of Viridor’s sector-leading decarbonisation plan. In May 2020 Viridor outlined a five-step action plan to net zero emissions by 2040, and the ambition to be the first net negative emissions waste and recycling company in the UK by 2045. In addition to taking steps to substantially increase recycling rates, the plan outlined Viridor’s intention to use carbon capture technologies to minimise emissions from waste that cannot be recycled. This new plan would enable the company to become net zero by 2030, a decade ahead of schedule.

Kevin Bradshaw, CEO of Viridor, said: “Viridor stands ready to invest in developing world-leading carbon capture technology. This will support our company and sector to decarbonise, as we have committed to do. But first of a kind technology projects on this scale require genuine partnership between the public and private sectors. Government policy support for waste management facilities to participate in industrial carbon capture schemes will be vital for us to keep progressing our plans.”

Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone said: "Viridor's investment in cutting-edge decarbonisation technology will support the UK’s commitment to green growth and ambitious net zero targets. Investments like this will be vital to help reduce emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures whilst driving jobs, growth and levelling up across the country. The Global Investment Summit will demonstrate how we can use investment to nurture technological developments and propel our economy towards a more prosperous, greener future."

Tara Davies, Partner and co-Head of KKR Infrastructure for EMEA, said: “We are hugely excited that Viridor are playing their part to help deliver a low-carbon future in the UK. Our investment in Viridor reflects KKR’s commitment to investing in critical UK infrastructure and in companies which advance solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability and climate challenges.”

Valborg Lundegaard, Chief Executive Officer of Aker Carbon Capture, said: “We are delighted to partner with Viridor on projects that could realise major emissions reductions in a hard to abate sector like waste-to-energy by 2030. Our modular carbon capture plants are designed for fast delivery and easy hook-up, and together with our partners we see this as a great opportunity to contribute to reaching climate goals and creating green jobs in the UK.”

David Phillips, Head of UK at Aker Carbon Capture, added: "The UK has set out a globally leading ambition on CCS and has the natural resources to make this a reality, which was instrumental in attracting Aker Carbon Capture to partner with Viridor in this market."

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