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Waste keeps the lights on as UK turns to a brave new future away from coal

31st May 2016

Reflecting on the news earlier this month, for what is believed to be the first time on record, the National Grid confirmed that no electricity was generated from coal burning facilities over a four hour period on the morning of 10 May in the UK. As the UK energy capacity gap decreases year on year, this milestone further underlines the important role that alternative energy generation will play in tomorrow’s society, with recovering energy from unwanted waste contributing strongly to energy security in the UK.

Looking towards the future, the UK has set a clear proposition to transition away from conventional electricity generation methods, along with growing its renewables sector. This is already a success story with 25% of the UKs energy being derived from renewable sources at points during 2015. However it is clear to see the difference between generating capacity ending its operational life in the UK, and new facilities coming online is not equal.

This is set against a landscape of pleas from the National Grid requesting additional generating capacity at short notice to cope with demand, after a series of large coal and gas fired power stations stopped generating in 2015. In response to the need for securing low-carbon energy, Viridor is stepping up to the mark, by developing a network of 11 state-of-the-art Energy Recovery Facilities across the country, working in partnership with local authorities to transform waste that was once sent to landfill sites into a vital renewable energy, enough to power over 200,000 homes.

Over the last three years Viridor has been engaged in a significant £1.5bn investment programme, the largest power plant development, providing the UK with over 160 MW generating capacity delivered safely and to budget. The energy contribution waste is making to the UK is now being recognised at the highest level too, with Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change visiting the Exeter ERF last week to understand how our facilities can contribute to a diverse energy mix in the future.

We are currently progressing well with further projects in South London and Dunbar adding to the contribution Viridor makes every day towards keeping the lights on. Seeing the waste that is thrown away every day as a valuable fuel we are able to provide a sustainable and reliable contribution to the UK energy market today and in the years to come.

Alan Cumming

Director of Capital Projects

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